The Weight is a Gift
Few bands have rebounded from one-hit-wonder novelty status the way the intelligent pop trio Nada Surf has. And “Popular,” the anti-high school speak-sing jam that was a hit in 1999 — you totally know it: “I’m head of the class/(I’m popular)/ I’m a quarterback/(I’m popular)” — was off their fourth record! This is a band that has gone from obscure to month’s flavour to respected indie act in one very long decade. The respect started pouring in with 2003’s stellar Let Go, an introspective, sad-boy collection about getting over a relationship. Where that record started quietly, a sole acoustic guitar relating the story of a decades-past blizzard, The Weight is a Gift starts peppy and earnest, even if the subject, a drug addict, is not. “To find someone you love,” announces singer and songwriter Matthew Caws, “you’ve gotta be someone you love.” Achingly precious statements like that are a little too plentiful (There’s also “Always love/hate will get you every time”), but the sincerity rings true throughout this harder-rocking effort. Caws’s ballads are elevated with restrained dosages of high-end words: “your habits ossify,” “the azalea air,” and whatnot. He references Nada’s time in the sun with the danceable mid-point, the tellingly titled “Blankest Year,” which begins “Oh, fuck it” and in which he sings “And now it’s lonely/thank god the band’s doing well/but you don’t own me.” The 44 minutes breeze by at first, so you need a few listens before Caws’s broken heart starts poking into you. And when it does, you’ll be left wondering why you’re clapping along and crying silently. Such is the gift of this majestic record.