A long exhale, a sigh and a single tear rolling down my face are just some of the reactions I’ve had from a first listen to a Weezer record in the past. After hearing a couple of the singles leading into Weezer’s upcoming release noted as the ‘Black Album’, a continuous colourWeezer theme of records, I had very mixed opinions. After hearing their new record in full I am ready to talk about it.
Weezer’s last two efforts were very different albums. Their 2016 ‘White Album’ was a fantastic collection of tracks filled with chunky distorted guitars and plenty of 90’s nostalgia. Then we were given ‘Pacific Daydream’ in 2017 which was a cheesy pop record talking about a lovely warm California beach whilst I was freezing my balls off in a cold Sheffield in October. Two very different albums, one good and one bad and it really left me wondering what the band could do next and with the announcement of ‘The Black Album’, maybe they would have a darker touch to their album.
NOPE. IT’S JUST PACIFIC DAYDREAM AGAIN BUT WITH A BIT MORE GUITAR AND VARIETY.
Their album artwork depicts the band like they’re dressed in gimp costumes, but after listening to their 40 minute, 10 track effort, I feel like I’m the one being abused. Do I just have to come to terms with myself that Weezer aren’t going to be that heavy guitar band that I once loved? And are they just going to tease me every so often with albums like ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ and ‘White’? My answer is most likely and when you see the writing credits to this album you can understand this isn’t the same Weezer I grew up with.
The album does have its highlights with opening track ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’ blending together Latin flare, funky basslines and hilariously catchy lyrics. It’s a song with ‘cool guys don’t look at explosions’ imagery and an upbeat beginning to the album. ‘High As A Kite’ is one of the melodic moments showcasing Weezer’s soft rock efforts with soft piano verses and anthemic choruses. Even the closing track ‘California Snow’ throws out juicy guitar licks and some sweet shredding, but sadly this closing number isn’t enough to save the album.
Second track ‘Zombie Bastards’ is incredibly catchy and has a stand out chorus, but it is met with poor lyrics and messy electronic effects which are distracting. Weezer don’t need to include all this added content, some loud distorted guitars would do the job. Track 9 ‘Byzantine’ sounds like background music for a beach destination holiday advert and its soft summery vibe was actually after a second listen a delight. That’s if I isolate it.
‘Living In L.A.’ has the same problem with a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s talk show giving us a familiar sound of Weezer and some guitars. Come to the album version and there’s lots of background vocal effects and poppy vibes that ruin the song for me. Then again I don’t live in California and maybe I’m missing something in terms of why Weezerfeel the need to talk about the state so much like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
For me the lyrics are once again the embarrassing part of a Weezer album with plenty of ‘do do dos’ and ‘blah blah blahs’… I guess they’ve gone full pop on us now. The mid-point of the album from tracks 5-8 become forgettable with slower moments such as ‘Piece Of Cake’ and Hurley-esc ‘I’m Just Being Honest’ and Raditude-esc ‘The Prince Who Wanted Everything’ sounding so sugar sweet poppy I was tempted to skip them. As a whole there’s a lot of clashing moments of sounds that don’t flow nicely into each other. At least ‘Pacific Daydream’ was consistent in that respect.
I have to stress profusely that I am a die-hard Weezer fan and have ‘Pinkerton’ album artwork tattooed on my arm I love them that much, I guess I’m just someone who can’t always get behind the band’s pop direction. I could argue that frontman Rivers Cuomo writes too many albums in such a short amount of time and cares more about memes, but Weezer have been like that since they returned in 2001 and some of those albums were killer. They’re a very talented band which is seen in their playability and commitment but goddammit Weezer why do you hurt me so?
At least it’s not as bad as some of their other work.