3 April 2016

Weezer - Weezer (The White Album)

Weezer - what is there left to say about these crazy cats?  They have been going since 1992 (with a hiatus between 1997 & 1999), they have released nine studio albums before this one and they are one of those acts which can make sunshine hit your mind, even in the darkest of days.  They have made videos with internet legends, clips from the TV show 'Happy Days', The Muppets and a group of sum wrestlers.  Much like my feelings on the Deftones, Weezer are a band who give me such a problem in places.  Some of their work is amongst my favourite album and songs ever, some of it makes me want to look at the wall to watch the fresh paint dry.  So I go into this review with a confession of honesty from the beginning - I have had mixed result and whilst I know these guys can make some perfect pop/rock gems, sometimes I am left with a sense of bemusement.  There last album was called 'Everything Will Be Alright in The End' (our review cleverly linked here) was a great album, with a sense of midlife crisis added as the band confronted the fact that they are not getting any younger.  This album has been described as a beach album by Rivers Cuomo, the first singles were released through Apple Music and according to producer Jack Sinclair the album is trying to return to the sound of 'The Blue Album' and 'Pinkerton' with a pinch of The Beach Boys.  That last bit is a quiet a large ask for any band, but it is something I can imagine Weezer being capable of completing - but should they return to that earlier sound?  With only two years since that highlight for the band, let us see how album number ten has turned out......

Starting off the album is "California Kids" which actually does what the band set out to do in the first place - it does have their earlier sound and mixed in it is The Beach Boys, but it is mostly the sound of Weezer coming out of the speakers and tearing it up!  It took me a little while to get what was going on here, for the first few listens I just throw away pop feelings towards it; it is still a pop song as it is a simple perfect world where everything is going right, but it has a great riff running through the song and a stupidly addictive chorus that makes the smile creep across your face with such ease that it should be reclassified as a class A drug and only given out with a prescription - but only once you get it (in my case, that took a while).  "Wind in Our Sail" adds more pop to the mix and takes a little bit of the rock away from the equation at this point, it is a song that sounds like everything is going in the right direction.  It reminds me of the sound that Keith/Mina Caputo achieved in the song "Just Be" from the album 'Died Laughing'.  The sunshine is still in the world, the prospects are huge and everything is could lead to great possibilities on this song.  I cannot say I am totally into the song, I think I am still making my mind up about it and that tends to be a sign that it will become one of my favourites in years to come.  "Thank God for Girls" is a song about the need for ladies to counteract the male gender in the world, being the opposite to the masculine genre (in a generalised sort of way).  This song in praise of the females of the species is a slower number with a decent beat to the sound, the music for the verses is a little light compared to the chorus, but it is still a good number overall even if it is sadly one of the weaker moments on the album (sorry ladies, but the music lets its down on this song).

"(Girl We Got A) Good Thing" is a moment that brings forth the spirit of the Beach Boys, with a sing along feeling, a natural, happy, joyful vibe that is designed to lift the spirits and make any frown turn upside down.  It is a throw away pop song, you cannot deny that as it is not designed to change the world; but it can change the mood of someone and make everything a brighter place, that is a power that cannot be ignored and this is one of the crowning jewels on this record.  "Do You Wanna Get High?" follows on and the song is about the same lady who inspired the song "O Girlfriend" from 'Weezer (The Green Album)'.  It is a strange song for me, musically it is very emotive and the sound does represent that earlier period of Weezer without sounding too much like a re-hash of their earlier work, just an extension of it.  It also has some tones of warning to the words and the rhythm reminds a bit of "Put Me Back Together" from ' Raditude' with a slower beat.  Next is another song which has been released as a single from this album (there has been three released from this ten track album), this one is called "King of the World".  I hate to say this, but it is an average song as far as Weezer are concerned.  For a band who thrive in alternative rock and pop, this song is a little too by the numbers for its own good.  It is not bad per se, it is just so pedestrian and dull.  I do not expect every song to make me ecstatic like "Pork & Beans" or "Keep Fishin'", but the hook on this sounds like it has been done before, the numbers are filled in to easy and it is largely forgettable - that is not a good thing for a single or any track if we are honest, such a shame.

"Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori" is a song about heartache, being dumped and trying to get over it, yet failing spectacularly.  The song is another slow number, throw away and it is such a great moment of this album.  It does exactly what a great Weezer song should do - it is a pop song with a thoughtful set of lyrics, a catchy chorus and even if the subject is sad - a sense of fun.  This is every bit as good as "King of the World" is bad; you could not get more Jekyll & Hyde if you tried, another highlight of this album with a great solo, brilliant chorus and heartbreak at its core. "L.A. Girlz" (why that spelling......) is another slower moment, this time bemoaning the way that ladies from L.A. act in general and asking them to change how they treat the protagonist of the song.  It is another song that is about heartbreak, vanity and it has a little bit of a bit about it, the riff is another catchy effort that makes the world a better place just for being played; but once more I am not in love with the riff, it is not quite there for the most part.  That said, the middle bridge and solo are fantastic.  The penultimate song is called "Jacked Up" and this song does bring some difference to the album, the sound is not retro in feeling and it has some difference to the rhythm and tone.  It is another love song (but aren't most pop songs) with a piano hook to it that centres the whole song in a way that is sadly missing from some of this album if I am honest.  It is a subtle gem that shines brightest for me, it might not be the most dynamic of songs on the album, but that is probably why it won my heart.  Ending the album is "Endless Bummer” which starts off with an acoustic strumming, a desire for summer to end and the mood is turning sour once again.  Love has gone wrong, the world is fucked and happiness is no longer an option for this story.  It builds up to a loud ending when the full band joy in and the party comes back briefly to make the light shine one last time as the album starts to come to a close. It is a decent enough ending to the album, linking with the beginning as the sound of the beach both starts and finishes this record.

I cannot help but feel a little bit disappointed with this album if I am honest, I think it is because it follows on from their best work for me with 'Everything Will Be Alright in The End'.  It is not that this is a bad album, but it is not amongst their best either.  Maybe it is because there is a weight of expectation due to promises which came from the producer, maybe they are trying once again to regain their youth which is strange as their last record (which I adore) seemed to be more midlife crisis than this.  It is a good pop record in places, but in others it is a little bit too throw away and trying to be something else.  I know that they have the bad patches, the same as any band will encounters in a long career, however, even though there is a few moments of brilliance and a few songs are not bad, there is too much filler and when it is compared to a lot of Weezer's back catalogue it does not stack up for me - file under not quite there yet......

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there

Top track - Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori

You can purchase Weezer (The White Album) on Amazon here.

You can visit the Weezer website here.

You can follow the activities of Weezer on Facebook here.

You can stream Weezer (The White Album) on Spotify here.

You can stream Weezer (The White Album) on Deezer here. 

You can stream Weezer (The White Album) on Tidal here. 

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