The Weight is a Gift
by Katie Sauro
Nada Surf’s 2003 release, Let Go, pulled them out of the land of one-hit-wonders, their sweet, vulnerable sound winning critics’ praises and the indie rock community reclaiming them as long lost prodigal sons. Their latest release, The Weight is a Gift, shows why they are still much deserving of these accolades.
The familiar prettiness returns, complete with the jangly guitars and the dreamy harmonizing vocals on previous albums. But on this album, guitarist and frontman Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca, and drummer Ira Elliot got a little help along the way from friends and labelmates John Roderick and Sean Nelson of The Long Winters, who sang backup on several songs, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, who produced the album and provided additional guitars. The new album also comes with a bonus four-track disc, which, as on their last album, portrays Caws’ love for singing in French.
Like on Let Go, the songs on this album vary between slower ballads, including the beautiful “Comes a Time,” and “Your Legs Grow,” which was released last year on a compilation supporting Music for America and MoveOn.org, and a poppier sound, like on “Concrete Bed” and “Blankest Year.” There are a few songs, such as “Imaginary Friends,” that take a harder edge, with crunchy guitars and pounding rhythms, but Caws’ high, pretty vocals still push their way through, making even the hardest sounding songs charming and sweet.
But Nada Surf is so much more than an endearing indie pop band that creates unassuming, yet pretty music. Just listen to the lyrics. Caws easily moves from the depressingly sad (“Is the weight of your own life too much for you?” from “All is a Game”), to the achingly beautiful (“In my dream I love you like a snowstorm in the night” from “In the Mirror”), to the inanely refreshing (“Oh fuck it, I’m going to have a party” from “Blankest Year”).
The songwriting on this album is incredible, and interwoven with the light, airy vocals of Caws, and the shimmering instrumentation provided by all three band members, Nada Surf has truly created a record worth every ounce of its acclaim.
Nada Surf is currently on tour in the U.S. and will be touring through Europe next month with another labelmate, John Vanderslice.