Weezer (The White Album)

Weezer

Crush/Atlantic, 2016

http://www.weezer.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/12/2016

Weezer’s fourth self-titled album (and 10th overall) is a classic case of trying too hard to please everyone and not really pleasing anyone except diehards.

By no means does the disc stoop to the levels of the band’s middle period, where the songs were either embarrassing or forgettable, for the most part. It’s a compact 34 minutes encompassing 10 pop-rock songs, all of which try for pop relevance and radio play using current production tricks and personnel. But Weezer is still a uniquely geeky pop band that likely won’t appeal to the teenagers listening to the Top 40 right now, and the band’s longtime fans may wish for more emotion and guitar work and fewer multitracked “ooooh”s. Need further proof? Cuomo actually joined Tindr to get a better sense of how current teenage girls talked and thought so he could glean songwriting ideas, something he freely admitted.

Even the song titles seem geared to how Rivers imagines teenage boys currently talk/text: “L.A. Girlz,” “Jacked Up,” “Do You Wanna Get High?,” “Thank God For Girls,” and “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing,” the latter of which sounds like a Backstreet Boys song from 1997, back when Rivers would have written something like this ironically and then returned to pouring his anxieties out on nbtc__dv_250 Pinkerton. This trend toward desperate relevance is just annoying after a while, particularly because Cuomo’s lyrics are smarter, geekier and fuller of arcane references than standard pop radio will allow. We all know this band is capable of more.

Peeking out in between the pop gloss is the meat of an album that evokes the Beach Boys, California living, and the general fascination with hope, drugs and/or heartbreak that marks every Weezer song. “King Of The World,” in particular, drops the façade with lyrics specific to Cuomo’s wife Kyoko, particularly her childhood and her fear of flying, and it’s a fine song. Certainly, the flashes of guitar brilliance across the disc are as good as anything Weezer has done since 2000, such as the beesting guitar solo and Nirvana-like introduction to “Summer Elaine And Drunk Dori,” the closing acoustic-to-electric “Endless Bummer,” and the riff to “Thank God For Girls.” Moreover, “Jacked Up” is unlike anything else in the Weezer catalog, driven by a piano riff instead of a major guitar, with Cuomo’s falsetto used sparingly and effectively.

But the majority of the disc trades in the sweet, overproduced pop-rock that marks all of Weezer’s current albums without offering truly memorable hooks that would make them worthwhile. Certainly, a grown, married man in his 40s has no business singing a song called “Do You Wanna Get High” and later talking about “California Kids” like he is one, not the parent of one. I’m not saying a brilliant album can’t be written about growing up on the West Coast in 2016, and using Brian Wilson as the starting point is pretty much required for any level of credibility, yet it feels like the band’s strengths get lost in the bid for relevance.

Still, there is enough to like about the disc that fans of any stripe will find at least two songs to add to iTunes, and I’d recommend the last two, “Jacked Up” and “Endless Bummer.” Both of these show where Weezer has been and where they can go if they stay true to themselves, and that sounds more like a Weezer song than any of the nonsense here about Mexican drugs and Burt Bacharach and Charles Darwin and constipation. Greatness for this band is always at hand when they let that geek flag flap proudly in the California wind.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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