A very fine piece of work indeed.
A very fine piece of work indeed.
Although it’s not specifically a celebration of the fact that the band have been together for a decade now, Nada Surf should be more than pleased with this, their fourth album, as it illustrates just how far they’ve come since that ‘popular’ song sold a few copies back in the mid nineties. In fact, The Weight is a Gift may well be the most impressive and cohesive piece of work they’ve put out yet.
Their last album, The Proximity Effect, had some great singles, most notably the undeniably catchy Amateur, but as an album it felt somewhat unbalanced and a bit all over the place. With this new album though, the band have managed to create an album that’s consistently strong from start to finish.
The opening trio of Concrete Bed, Do It Again and in particular the new single Always Love are as good as anything they’ve ever done. Ira and Daniel do some great work behind Matthew’s sugar sweet guitar licks and melodies, but it’s Matthew’s voice that really steals the show again here. It’s hard to imagine the band having been together for a full decade because Matthew’s voice sounds so young. He may be on the wrong side of thirty, but he still sounds like a teenager, possessing the sweetest voice in pop outside of Mark Morriss of The Bluetones.
Each and every song on this album is finely crafted, excellently played and catchy is hell. Ok, I won’t pretend to know what the hell Matthew’s going on about in Your Legs Grow, (Where it’s cold but not that deep / Cos your legs grow – any ideas?) but the melody has drilled itself into my brain and just won’t let go and in Blankest Year they’ve created my favourite Nada Surf song yet.
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the label heads first got a listen to Blankest Year because I reckon it would have been a classic moment. I can just imagine the bunch of suits sitting around a table and listening to the album, trying to decide on a first single. The drums will have kicked in on track seven and almost immediately their feet will have started tapping. "Ooh, we like this!" Then the first line will have been heard, Oh to hell with it / I’m gonna have a party and the suits will have asked, "Oh to hell with it? Did he just say, to hell with it? He did. Hmmm. Well I think we can get away with that. It’s risky, but I can’t imagine it offending anybody too much. I think the radio stations will allow it, don’t you? The tune is great. Really catchy. I think we’ve got a hit here. Do you reckon?" They’d have sat there all happy, seeing dollar signs in front of their eyes and smiling broadly, then the second chorus would arrive, Oh fuck it / I’m gonna have a party and I can just imagine the suits going ballistic. "Did he just say what I think he said? Did he say fuck it? Fuck it? What did he do that for? He did say that didn’t he? He did? Bollocks………Well we’ll go with Always Love then." I tell you, I love this song. The swear words are sung with such nice harmonies and in such a goofy manner that I can’t help but be amused by it. It’s swearing for the sake of it, to be sure, but it has the same kind of enjoyment in swearing that only teenagers have. It’s great and would be a perfect choice for a single. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an edited version appear somewhere down the line.
At the end of the day The Weight is a Gift is a great little pop album. 11 catchy tunes filled with memorable hooks, luscious melodies and some beautiful harmonies too. Lyrically it’s all about trying to get over some bad times, but in trying to sort out his own life through music Matthew has created, with the help of his band mates of course, a very uplifting and pleasing album. If you’re in the need of some exciting pop songs to brighten your Autumn Evenings in, then I suggest you pick up The Weight is a Gift. It’s a very fine piece of work indeed.
Words : Damian Leslie