Despite all the smart-aleck lyrics, the nerdy image, the high-flying concepts, and even the not-quite-punk posing, Weezer is truly about the music. Thumping bass, anthematic guitars, drums – this is just solid rock with bass-driven rhythm that hooks the ear. “Only in Dreams” is perhaps the song that best captures what I loved about the old Weezer, and this album brings something similar. After listening to the new jolt of old Weezer intently for a week, that’s what I keep coming back to – the music is just so damned appealing, I could live off that bass and rhythm guitar.
Like me, Robin pens her satisfaction with the album’s new/old direction over at Deliberate Obfuscation. We try not to talk much about our impressions of the albums during the week, so it was fun to read how much we both appreciated coming back to a group we had ignored during some apparently rough patches.
This album serves as a welcome back to a band that kind of disappeared for a while. They burst onto the scene back in 1994 with the catchy and clever “Sweater Song” and came out with a few really good albums, but, at least for me, they faded from consciousness. In researching this review, I see that they came out with a few albums that appear to be aimed at a more commercial sound, but they didn’t work.
I’m not a professional music reviewer. Nobody pays me to listen to albums that don’t work. I’m also not such a huge fan of anyone that I will reflexively go out and buy their next album if I don’t hear something good about it from a trusted voice. So bad albums from good bands pretty much don’t exist for me.
Despite my inherent forgiveness borne of ignorance, Weezer starts off this album with hand-wringing nightmares about guitars being dead, and the second song, “Back to the Shack” is a full-out apology for straying from their audience and promises to be “More hardcore/Rockin’ out like it’s ‘94”.
All this would be as annoying as hell if it weren’t for the great, power-pop music. The guitars are ringing, the bass is thumping out the direction, and shut up about the excuses and don’t bore me with the explanations – just catch me up in the beat and all is forgiven. Even better than forgiven, it’s forgotten. Even better than forgotten, I never even listened to your apparently misguided “Raditude” album, so we’re fine. What’s the next bass line?
If you’re wanting to be a bit more intellectual than I am about this album, you will find material to mine. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo gives us a brief update on his life in “Back to the Shack”: “finally settled down with my girl and I made up with my dad/I had to go and make a few mistakes so I could find out who I am.” Nice to know, River – how’s the weather? “The British are Coming,” track 6, warns of yet another British invasion, and promises to greet the “Punk ass redcoats” with force.
DaVinci, track 7, is more trademark Weezer cleverness, finding Cuomo “at a loss for words” trying to describe his mysterious girlfriend, whom he can’t find even on Ancestry.com:
Even Da Vinci couldn't paint you
Stephen Hawking can't explain you
Rosetta Stone could not translate you
You have to give Cuomo credit – he is a clever lyricist.
For me, though, the key is the music, and two of the last three tracks are instrumentals that, to me, seem like a satisfying scratch to the “put up or shut up” itch that Weezer triggered in its earlier promises to return to its roots. Here, for your listening pleasure, is the final track of the album, full of the guitar, bass and drums that make me love Weezer.
Next up: 1989, by Taylor Swift