Nada Surf

The Proximity Effect

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On their second album of amiable alterna-pop, New York trio Nada Surf casually stroll through a thick catalog of various post-grunge styles to suitable, but uninteresting, effect. Producer Fred Maher brings a more rounded, and heftier, wall of sound to Nada Surf's delicately balanced tales of life in the superficial and wishy-washy '90s than Ric Ocasek did on their 1996 debut, High/Low, but it's all ultimately disposable and utterly forgettable. While there are times where The Proximity Effect tries to break out of the limiting corner of the alt-rock universe it's staked for itself (like the power pop rave-up "Why Are You So Mean to Me?"), more often than not it returns to the familiar, and assumingly comforting, haven of angst-free pop. Nothing really wrong with that concept, but it's certainly one that will keep Nada Surf marked and suppressed with hyphenated labels.

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