Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Nada Surf

The Weight Is A Gift (2005)


Count Nada Surf as yet another formerly potential one-hit wonder far removing themselves from the inklings of their single (in this case, mid-90's MTV alterna-rock hit "Popular") to provide something much more rich and deep, and stylistically different altogether. The Weight Is A Gift is the band's fourth full-length overall, and second for the indie grounds of Barsuk. If the band's early, major label material was pure alternative rock, then their latter stuff, including the new delivery here, is assuredly indie pop. It's mellow, smooth, always upbeat, and just affecting, assumingly fitting in rather well on a label package tour between John Vanderslice and refugees on good terms Death Cab For Cutie.

Opener "Concrete Bed" moves along at a fine pace and an acoustic-dependent shuffle, immediately ushering in the album with some paced brushes of guitar chords. Matthew Caws has to be smiling as the opening words "the world's locked up in your head / you've been pouring it a concrete bed" leave his mouth, as never more in the album is the upswing in his voice so prevalent; if the first song on the record could be described in one word, it'd easily be 'sunny.' The breakout more or less in "Do It Again" is a great changeup to the rest of the song, with Caws suddenly bursting out "I spend all my energy staying upright / and I like the masking noise quiet of your breathing nearby." It's pretty efficient, and Caws' enunciation of 'quiet' is pleasantly peculiar. You're sure to perk up after a slight mid-album lull with Caws singing "ohhh, fuck it" in "Blankest Year." It's one of the more up-tempo tracks, and an admission of "I'm going to party" only furthers the pacing. It's not aggressive or in your face by any means, but in contrast to the rest of the album moves rather well.

On top of that, production is near flawless. Stick this next to Youth Group's recently reissued Skeleton Jar; you can tell it's Death Cab's Chris Walla at the helms, and it's someone who knows how to perfectly bring out the traits of any band doing this type of music. The vocals flow through the speakers like a best friend's conversation, and the guitar tones either give off a heavy, old star twinkle or resonate with valley-low background moans.

Few in the genre can lure in the listener playing with such a limited palette of compelling characteristics to draw from, and I can't say The Weight Is A Gift quite lives up to any of the current masters of it. Hardly a challenging listen, it's quite a notable entry into the style regardless, and indie pop doesn't really get much more pleasurable and satisfying than this, and in a fairly consistent format considering.