Recordings: Nada Surf – The Weight is a Gift

Perhaps The Weight is a Gift should have been the title for Nada Surf’s far-off reunion record, when it could explain the likely love handles. Perhaps it could have been an acoustic record, where vocalist Matthew Caws’ insistent self-indulgence would be expected. Unfortunately, the first-person diary drool that wrinkles the once-notorious indie-rocker’s fourth studio album doesn’t leave much dirt for boys and girls to run their grubby young ears through. Instead of the balls-out, blow-it-up-and-get-stoned incisiveness that made their hit single “Popular” a ruthless document of adolescent posturing, Nada’s new record struggles (read this with a stiff upper lip) with the morose confusion of adulthood, maturity and love. The result is more Dr. Phil than Mick Jagger, even though the songs themselves aren’t that bad, musically.

Nada Surf – The Weight is a Gift

It’s Caws’ lyrics more than anything that make The Weight such a snicker. He dons the preacher’s robe on quite a few numbers, announcing, “Always love/ hate will get you every time” on “Always Love.” The refrain in “Concrete Bed” is possibly worse: “To find someone you love, you gotta be someone you love.” Did this guy get born again? Or did he just read too much Deepak Chopra?

If you can get past the cheese, the Nada boys rock it more or less on par. Their production is lushly transparent, sucking every drop of color from the textbook guitar/bass/drum arrangements. Not a wink of originality on the whole thing, but for seekers of melodic, introspective indie rock, it probably doesn’t matter.