Nada Surf celebrate their 20th anniversary with The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, the band's seventh studio album and first collection of original material since 2008's Lucky. "Every birthday candle that ever got blown out is one more year of someone trying to figure it all out," Matthew Caws sings in "Looking Through," a song about aging gracefully and holding onto one's youth. Most of the other tunes follow suit; "No Snow on the Mountain" finds its narrator coming to grips with the real world after leaving academia, and "Teenage Dreams" deals with... well, teenage dreams. Now in his mid-forties, Caws is old enough to be cynical about all this heart-on-your-sleeve stuff, but Astronomy sounds as timeless and wide-eyed as any Nada Surf album, taking its cues from 1960s Merseybeat, '80s college rock, and 21st century power pop in equal measure. Those influences are rolled into ten sparkling guitar pop tunes, which Caws and his bandmates -- bassist Daniel Lorca, drummer Ira Elliot, and guest guitarist Doug Gillard -- drench with vocal harmonies and candied hooks. "When I Was Young" is the only track to substitute acoustic guitar arpeggios for electric power chords, but even that song builds itself into a lush, midtempo power ballad after the two-minute mark, as though the bandmates simply couldn't contain their optimism any longer. Like the title suggests, Stars burns bright and fast.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey