November 03, 2005

Nada Surf "This Weight Is A Gift"

Nada Surf's last album, Let Go took the music world by surprise. After all, one-hit wonders aren't supposed to sustain a career after their one hit has disappeared, and they're certainly not allowed to make great records without the help of a major label budget...right? And after making a kind of dumb pop hit, they really can't make a record of the year...can they? Though the mainstream music world might answer "right" to such questions, Nada Surf quietly and rightfully ignored them, coming back well after most music listeners had forgotten about them and had sold off their copies of High/Low, assuming them to be nothing more than "Popular" also-rans.

While Let Go was the surprising comeback, The Weight Is A Gift is the true test of Nada Surf's mettle, the first new material from the band's first real period of true stability. As the trio didn't have anything to prove this time around (no follow-up to a 'one-hit wonder' record, no auspicious comeback after being left for dead), The Weight Is A Gift is the sound of a band growing and maturing quite nicely. The Weight Is A Gift contains a few moments of pure rock bliss like "The Blankest Year" and "Do it Again," but for the most part the band has settled for a sunny, mellow rock. It's rather impressive how their sound has matured, even though they've not really changed their sound.

Equally as impressive is the band's lyrical growth."Always Love"-easily one of this year's best songs--is the album's true winner. It begins with a gentle guitar riff, with Matthew Caws softly reminding the listener to "always love, hate will get you every time," and then explodes into a wonderfully full, surprisingly slick rock number. Even with all of its radio-friendly power, it's still a wonderfully powerful number. If any song deserves to be overplayed on the radio, it's this one. Other songs like "Your Legs Grow" and the wonderful album closer "Imaginary Friends" also give the listener something wonderful to think about. Sage advice + excellent songwriting = Nada Surf's superpower. (Who knew that the "song as advice" formula they created with "Popular" would still be so rewarding?)

The Weight Is A Gift is a simply fine record from a great band. Weathering all those years of struggle and instability has paid off, and it's good that they've finally had some tranquility, because now that they don't have to worry about non-musical issues, they can finally write a record in peace. After listening to The Weight Is A Gift, it's rather obvious that stability serves Nada Surf quite well.

--Joseph Kyle

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