Monday, June 16

Weezer And Their Okay New Album

The last time Weezer set free a full-blown collection of new songs into the musical wild, all who’d taken either of their first four albums into their heart took note and listened in. This time, any thrill neighbouring the release of ‘Weezer’, otherwise ‘The Red Album’, is much less evident. This could be down to last album ‘Make Believe’ holding two out of a possible twelve supreme moments. It could be that most have become bored of singer Rivers Cuomo’s traditional post-album “I’m not certain we’ll ever make a record again” declarations. Or it could be because five albums in to the LA four-piece’s gleaming livelihood, not many are so anxious by the chance to hear another.
Nevertheless, ‘Weezer’, the third time they’ve self-titled an album, has taken three years to get here, and comes via the odd producer fuse of Jacknife Lee (U2/Bloc Party/Snow Patrol) and Rick Rubin (System Of A Down/Red Hot Chili Peppers/Johnny Cash). And since 2005’s ‘Make Believe’ much has happened: Cuomo graduated from Harvard, got married, and released an album’s worth of unheard material. Guitarist Brian Bell and drummer Patrick Wilson pretended to be The Velvet Underground in drama film ‘Factory Girl’. And bassist Scott Shriner too got married.
The nicely dense ten-track album begins with ‘Troublemaker’, which sets things off by way of a constant and pretty average riff that if bolted up just slightly higher would come off much beefier, all for the better. Though at least Cuomo’s always-witty words of wisdom are in place - “Movies are as bad as eating chocolate ice cream”. ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ plainly makes use of Rubin’s touch to flow by means of Queen-esque solos and Mercury-screeching, before finishing up in the mould of a hymn. Meh.
Lead single ‘Pork And Beans’ is however the Weezer we all know and cherish, through trouble-free catchy melody bathing under what are probably Cuomo’s most straightforward lyrics thus far, for what is one of their greatest ever inventions. ‘Heart Songs’ is this record’s shining point though, a soft jingle that manages to reference Abba, John Lennon and Iron Maiden all in the same few minutes. However it’s Cuomo’s detail of finding the 91’ record “with the baby on it” before starting his band that is the most touching of moments. But then turns up ‘Everybody Get Dangerous’, where Cuomo’s want to street up his vocals seems more phoney than blissful.
At least somewhere within the regular changes of course in ‘Dreamin’’ exists some tuneful harmonies, before it decides to needlessly rush out with almost Green Day guitar punk. ‘Cold Dark World’ is as daunting as Pink Floyd, then the album finishes with ‘The Angel And The One’, a stupefying piece which sees Cuomo as honest and sentimental as ever, traversing above a single 91’-like grungy guitar line.
Still, the thing with ‘Weezer’ is that where ‘Pork And Beans’, ‘Heart Songs’ and ‘The Angel And The One’ have enough purity and melody in them to match, or even better, their previous efforts, there’s just as many pointless twists on here that can’t help but pull the record down. Producers’ Rubin and Lee are geniuses, but the shifts in the album’s path are obvious, and don’t come off. It should have been kept as undemanding as its lead single, where Weezer are at their finest and where many of their followers have been influenced. The album promotion will finish, Rivers Cuomo will announce they’ve broken up, and then in three years time they’ll be back again. Only let’s hope then they’ve got a classic to bring us.
Heart Songs
Weezer Myspace