There's a time for playing it cool and keeping your mouth shut. There's also a time for running down the street, feet pounding and head thumping with the sheer sense of freedom as you leave buildings, cars and people behind. From the opening head rush chords of 'Concrete Bed', The Weight Is A Gift sneaks into the subconscious, shocking every dejected brain cell into a sense of possibility and forcing it to gravitate towards the light.
Singer Matthew Caws spends much of the album contemplating life's bigger forces, and after spending over a decade writing songs, wisdom is an appropriate characteristic for his band. 'Always Love' deals with the pointlessness of feeling bitter. The guitars feed through with more power and immediacy than the lyrics would demand and his good-natured exuberance is made inescapable by the cryptic hook: "I've been held back by something, you said to me quietly on the stairs..."
Equally, 'Blankest Year' should have major label record company execs spitting and cursing, as it is the most obvious pop single, yet it's perfectly littered with "Fuck it"s. Perfect pop harmonies irreverently echo the expletives and the fuzzed-up guitar is reminiscent of Iggy Pop's 'The Passenger'. It's ridiculously addictive and will have you bouncing around the house like the kid out of R.E.M's 'End of the World...' video.
It's not all bright lights and carefree wonder though. Caws' reedy, boyish tones are dropped for the sincere 'Your Legs Grow' as strings, flutes and harmonies provide the song's impetus and rhythm. The mournful waltz of 'Comes A Time' feels the influence of contemporaries, Death Cab For Cutie. In fact, Death Cab's Chris Walla plays guitar on several of the tracks, as well as taking credit as the album's producer. If you had Nada Surf down as a one-hit wonder indie band that should remain sidelined to compilation tapes, then the magnetic glory of this album will turn your head.
8Lianne Steinberg's Score