Review Summary: This is the kind of album that makes me just skip to the few songs worth listening to.
Follow ups have never been Nada Surf’s strong suit. Their previous album Let Go was a smash hit, and it helped put Nada Surf on the map. On their fourth album The Weight is a Gift, the New York trio tries ever so much to put in what made Death Cab for Cutie an indie-pop hit. While this album doesn’t follow suit to their previous projects, it still has that “guitar-pop” feel, which in my case, is a good listen from time to time.
Although this album doesn’t portray the true nature and talent of Nada Surf, it certainly does set them far from most of the field. With this release, they’ve set themselves free, and that to me is a good thing. What this album consists of is far from good however.
The Weight is a Gift is enjoyable. Half of the songs are good quality, and have that tendency to catch you bobbing your head. In truth, this album has a lot to do with a recurring theme that say’s, “Hey, we may have our problems, but there is always hope.” The problem with this concept is that there tends to be a little too much repetitiveness.
The opening track “Concrete Bed” is a good opener. It is very upbeat, cheerful, and it strays away from the album’s overall theme (a good thing). The acoustic guitar is rhythmic, but catchy, and that adds to the quirkiness of the song. With lines like, “The world's locked up in your head/You've been pouring in a concrete bed/Your habits ossified/You don't realize you're fried,” this opener really sets the mood. Or does it? Perhaps it would have been better suited on Let Go.
It seems that singer/guitarist Matthew Caws is stuck in his whole love/sick world as he vividly describes song after song on this dull album. “Comes a Time” is just one of a handful of songs that seems to portray the same meaning or overall theme behind what Caws is saying, but it’s just too obvious, and I feel that this adds to lack of assortment. “One of us has gone/They never should,” is a line from “Comes a Time” and it seems that Caws puts this out in most of the songs showing that he wants to be more emotionally direct in his writing. It’s a good thing to showcase that aspect of your profession, but it isn’t necessary in almost all of the songs.
Along with repetitiveness on this album that the listener really can’t stray away from, some of the songs seem to be questionable, and you find yourself asking if they actually wanted to produce an album that was everything Let Go wasn’t. Besides being repetitive, more than a handful of these songs don’t really make sense, nor do they portray a meaning. It seems that they just plod on for three minutes with generic lyrics like, “You're the only person in the world/I feel that way about.” “Your Legs Grow” does not really make much sense, and it’s filled with lines like the one you just saw. “The Blankest Year” should properly be renamed the “Blankest Song”, and I felt myself saying the opening line when listening to the song. “Oh, **** it.”
With all of this bashing, there should be some phrase for the album. It is not an entirely poor album, and it does have songs that fit “DECENT” and “GREAT” categories. “Always Love” finds yourself asking why they didn’t put more ballads like this on the album, and “Imaginary Friends” is another neat and original song like the opener “Concrete Bed.”
While this album doesn’t follow suit to their previous projects, it still has that “guitar-pop” feel, which in my case, is a good listen from time to time. I feel that true fans of Nada Surf will find this album better than what I think of it, but not quite as good as Let Go. New comers should probably give this a listen, then get away, and get Nada Surf’s earlier music. As for cult followers who jump on the bandwagon, beware music listeners, they’ll probably claim that this is their best album to date.