I Will Listen to the Latest Weezer Album Exactly Three Times

weezer16I don’t really care for Weezer anymore. I used to love them. 1995-1996 was a different story. You tell 11-year-old Jordan P that Weezer is destined to make two unbelievably great albums and about 8 mediocre-to-terrible ones, that kid will cut you! He’s not like me. I’ve been refined, finished, sharp edges sanded off. That kid’s nuts.

But, like all kids once in a while, this kid had a point: The first two Weezer albums are classics. The first is an airtight collection of power pop gems; the second turned out to be an inversion of that very idea. If Weezer was self-possessed and MTV-ready, Pinkerton was its dirty art-school cousin. Raw, bleeding, and more or less dismissed as sophomore slump when it came out, Pinkerton turned out to be an equal to its predecessor once I (and everyone else) revisited it a few years later.

Then things got weird and cheaply cynical. Remember when I was talking about rough edges before?  Weezer had a few really interesting ones early on. For example, original bass player/founding member Matt Sharp was a notable foil for Cuomo in the early years, and his departure after this record may have destabilized the regime, so to speak. I’m not sure I can point to a proximate cause for the subsequent decline in the group’s output, but as far as this author is concerned, the proof is in the ultra-sweet pudding. Post Pinkerton, Rivers Cuomo had but one primary goal: he aimed to effectively weaponize pop music.

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It’s been about 20 years since Rivers Cuomo discovered a secret Mad-Lib that allowed him to deliver “pop songs” at an alarming rate. Post Pinkerton, this Rosetta Stone was in full effect, allowing Cuomo to fluently speak the language of alt-rock, while trimming superfluous fatty deposits whenever possible. The songs were lean and mean, but started to become no fun at all.

I tolerated The Green Album, even pretended for a bit that “Hash Pipe” didn’t take three minutes to write. “Island in the Sun” was perfectly good fun, even if it sounded a bit like the dying dream of a political prisoner who has been lobotomized into submission.

Check out the film Brazil, friends! I think that’s what happened in that movie! 

After that, it all got hazy. I picked up songs here and there and was generally disappointed with the quality of each successive album. My last specific memory is either “Dope Nose” or the one with the Muppets. It seemed as though Cuomo had finally created the perfect piece of sugary entertainment while in the process sacrificing everything non-generic and idiosyncratic about his work.

Not a fan, in other words.

So, for about ten years, I stayed away. But, on the strength of those first two albums (not to mention a few friends telling me that this might be worth a damn), here I am. The new Weezer album was released in April of this year.

I’m going to listen to it three times and see if I get anything from it.

Anything at all.

I approach this with something resembling an open mind. It’s up to you now, Weezer!

Below, my unabridged notes, broken down by track.

  1. California Kids
    1. Regardless of how old you were when the “Blue Album” came out, Weezer appears mainly interested in being a band for teenagers. I get that those are the only people that actually spend money on albums, but it’s weird (anecdotally) to grow up with a band and then realize you were the only one doing any sort of growing.
  2. Wind in Our Soul
    1. I kind of like this one. It has a bit of an ELO thing going on in the chorus. It’s just really striking how clean and glossy the production is. That’s not a bad thing, per se, but compare this album to 1996’s Pinkerton. There’s some rude sounds on that record, and I think the angst and disquiet is enhanced by the buzzing and screeching.
    2. It’s always good to hear a song about Charles Darwin, too.
  3. Thank God for Girls
    1. This is possibly the worst song title I have ever heard. It’s almost as bad as “Mona Lisas and Mad Hitlers.” And that’s just some stupid thing I made up.
    2. This is getting a little bit Red Hot Chili Peppers for my tastes. I appreciate the desire to branch out artistically, but does Weezer really need to bring the funk? It doesn’t really fit them, and everyone is uncomfortable.
  4. (Girl We Got A) Good Thing
    1. Bland mid-tempo, vaguely Beach-Boys-influenced bittersweet song that left my head the moment the next track started.
    2. Does Weezer use the word “girl” the same way AC/DC uses the word “rock”? Which is to say “excessively”?
  5. Do You Want to Get High?
    1. Will it help me enjoy this album more? Regardless, the answer is “yes.”
    2. It’s kind of weird that he keeps referencing Burt Bacharach. Clearly the melancholy pop songs are a huge influence on Rivers Cuomo, but all the Bacharach references would ironically have been more appropriate on the previous track.
  6. King of the World 
    1. I think he’s talking about riding a Greyhound. Probably the bus company and not the breed of dog. If it’s the dog, who do I need to call?
    2. I dunno. We’ll see about this one. “If I was king of the world you wouldn’t have to shed a single tear unless you wanted to.” I think that’s nice.
    3. This song gets a 3/4 thumbs up from me! That’s the highest grade I give out.
  7. Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori
    1. They’ve finally become the Cars. Fitting that their most famous album was produced by Ric Ocasek.
    2. This song is a complete sugar rush, but I like it in spite of all that.
  8. L.A. Girlz
    1. Notice how nobody talks about “women” or “men” at any point. It’s all “kids” and “girlz.” Didn’t we already cover this in the first track?
    2. That being said, it’s kind of catchy. We will see about this one.
    3. Some lady is singing! Is this the most interesting moment on the album by far? Why, yes! Yes it is!
    4. The second half of the album might be, in general, stronger than the first.
  9. Jacked Up
    1. This is a little “pop chart” for my taste. I feel like Maroon 5 are collectively laughing and spreading their wings.
    2. It’s not necessarily a bad song. Nobody is accusing Cuomo of being a bad songwriter. That has never been the problem. But I maintain the opinion I had on “Listen 1.” They’re shoehorning into a sort of popular style. I can’t quiet put my finger on it, but it sounds very topical. Maybe in ten years somebody will figure out what made 2016 so very 2016.
  10. Endless Bummer
    1. Kind of on-the-nose, don’t you think? I guess if you take the whole album as a Beach Boys homage (which, apparently, it was intended to be) it’s a little bit clever. Would “Wet Sounds” have been better?
    2. This song gets better when it kicks in around 2.50.
    3. This is a pretty cool solo.
    4. Hey! It’s over! The important thing is that nobody was hurt!

Conclusion: I’m not going to say that Weezer (colloquially known as The White Album) has brought me back to the side of the Cuomo disciples. I’m perfectly happy knowing Weezer as an acquaintance. We don’t have to be best friends. We can share a cigarette on a porch at someone’s party once in a while and then go our separate ways, each slightly more enriched. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how well my old friend was doing. When he approached me, I assumed he wanted to borrow money.

Weezer (White Album)

3 Nuts!


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One comment to “I Will Listen to the Latest Weezer Album Exactly Three Times”
  1. Couldn’t agree more about their early albums… Everything since then feels hollow. Your line about “making music for teenagers” though makes me feel like I’ve just outgrown them, too. Sales figures don’t lie, though. They sold more than 3 million copies of the Blue Album in the U.S. Their last album “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” sold about 100k. Albums don’t sell like they used to, though.

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