29 October 2017
Weezer - Pacific Daydream
Weezer seem to be on a bit of a roll, at least when it comes to the quantity of their output. It has only been seventeen months after the disappointing Weezer (White Album) (my review linked here), also this is not the album that Weezer first promised the world. Firstly, they announced that they would be releasing what would be known as Weezer (Black Album), a dark mirror for Weezer (White Album) with the songs that would apparently sound like The Beach Boys gone bad. But whilst they were working on that album, they wrote a batch of songs which did not fit in with that concept and the folder of "other" songs was soon overflowing. So much so, that they have put back Weezer (Black Album) to be released sometime next year, so they could release this album, Pacific Daydream. The image alone on this album is crazy, being on a swing in space is the sort of thing people see in their sleep, so it already has an outlandish feeling. But since it has been released, I have heard a critical back lash, as well as one from their fans. For me, the main worry I have with the album is the fact it has four producers. I have long held that multi-producer albums tend to feel unbalanced and lacking in focus, will Pacific Daydream change that opinion?
01 - Mexican Fender
"Mexican Fender" is a song about a summer love, sounding like a pop-rock-indie combination that is rolling in the California sun and everything is sunshine. There is a polish to this song which feels like everything will slide off it, like it cannot really stick to anything. Worryingly, it's also incredibly forgettable and I always feel a little surprised when it comes on, as if I am half remembering a dream. But once it is finished, there is no real lasting effect and that is not my usual experience when it comes to Weezer.
02 - Beach Boys
"Beach Boys" is a song that once again feels like it is bathed in the California vibe, but there is a sun-set feeling to the music. The song seems to be about being on the wrong side of the track, in a gang and things generally going south on a semi-regular basis. It's an improvement to "Mexican Fender", but it's still not up to their own high standards. It is decent enough, but very forgettable.
03 - Feels Like Summer
"Feels Like Summer" was the first song to be released from Pacific Daydream, it is also River Cuomo's biggest pop fantasy come true. It's larger than life, it has some great pop hooks and it's very catchy. However, it is not a Weezer song in my mind, it's akin to what Beck did on Colors, but with more acid and crayons. It's OTT, a colourful daydream pop tune which is several times removed from their usual sound. Exploring different genres is always something to be encouraged, but this one feels like it should have been released under a different name.
04 - Happy Hour
"Happy Hour" isn't a happy song, it’s a pop complaint about life having a huge shit on you whilst other people are living the good life. So, you crave the release of an alcoholic drink to escape the pain of the everyday. It's not a great coping mechanism, but it is some peoples only method as outlined in this song. Much like "Beach Boys", it seems a little bit too slow to be a true pop number, to light to be an indie classic and not doing much for anyone.
05 - Weekend Woman
"Weekend Woman" is a song about a union which is short, but memorable. With more pop hooks thrown into the mix, you would be forgiven for wishing for a fuzzy guitar peddle at this point. Which is a shame in a way, as this song is the nearest that the band have come to shedding those synth pop sounds on the album so far. But they seem to be happy in this sound, it's just a shame that it sounds a little too easy to these ears. It is decent once again, but it is not as memorable as they were probably hoping for.
06 - QB Blitz
"QB Blitz" a lighter version of every other song on this album, it is straight forward and sort of dull to be honest. It's a basic pop song, sort of okay in a boring way. There is not specifically wrong with the song, it is just a bland and even less memorable than the rest - which is an achievement that they were probably not aiming for. File under "worst song of the album, probably ever from Weezer".
07 - Sweet Mary
"Sweet Mary" is River Cuomo playing out his ELO fantasy, it is another larger than life song on this album. It has style, there is a classic rock-pop song vibe in the old-school sense of the word. The sunshine vibe of this song works to its advantage, it does not feel forced and that is a big plus point. It's the best song on the album, but if we are honest, that is not a hard achievement on this album.
08 - Get Right
"Get Right" keeps up the sort of anti-Weezer feeling of the record, heading for a pure pop direction without sacrificing their overall sound for some bizarre reason. Because of this effort to bridge the gap between the two styles, it sorts of feels like it's trying to please everyone, and it ends up pleasing no-one. There is a pleasant sound to the music, it's not offensive or dull, but it is not exciting either and good pop music (and Weezer songs) should have a certain buzz level. Another one which is forgettable once it's finished, which is such a shame.
09 - La Mancha Screwjob
"La Mancha Screwjob" is another song that is baths in California sunshine, pop production and if it was released under a different name, it would still sound average. This is so pedestrian, so similar music that is in the charts that it ends up being a bit dull. It's not poor, but it's not good either.
10 - Any Friend of Diane's
Ending the album is "Any Friend of Diane's" which adds pedal steel guitar, Spanish guitar and a gentle melody to the mix. It's a nice enough tune, there is nothing offensive or wrong with the music. But I cannot see people running back to listen to this in a hurry, it is too plain and there is no fizz to the music.
What we have here is a pop album, a pure and simple pop record and not one that feels natural in the grand scheme of things. So why have I given it a six out of ten, when it has taken a bit of a beating throughout the review? It all comes down to the mark I gave Weezer (White Album). Pacific Daydream is certainly not a great Weezer album, it’s not an even a good pop album to be honest, but it's still an improvement on Weezer (White Album) (again, not exactly hard). I cannot say it is awful, but the way I look at Pacific Daydream is this; when you are constantly release everything you write all the time, the quality control for some artists is not always there. Remember, not every song is going to be a hit, this album is sadly a reminder that people can have off days. With each song on this album, there is a similar pace and the tone of the tunes rarely alters, but there is no connecting line to the songs. It's as if they have stopped short of moving out of that particular gene pool, as if the songs are distant family members in name only, who barely know each other brought together for a family photo. That is what tends to happen when you have more than one producer on a record, more than one controller at the wheel. When it comes to Weezer, they seem to either release classics or below average albums of meh, this one is sadly the latter and it drift past me without making a lasting impression. I can see why some long-time fans are not happy with it, however, it's still better than the last one, but only just. Also, I think that Weezer have mined that California sound long enough, but that is just my own opinion. I applaud them for trying to make a pure pop album, this will probably sell well enough as it has the name Weezer on it. However, and this is a big however, they are starting to sound as if they are treading water a bit. Maybe it should have been released under a different name, maybe then it would have been free of that shadow which Weezer have created for themselves. But that is not the case, we cannot deal in maybes and this album is what it is - average. So, one step forward, two steps back on Pacific Daydream.
6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it's not quite there
Top track - Sweet Mary
You can purchase Pacific Daydream on Amazon here.
You can visit the Weezer website here.
You can follow the activities of Weezer on Facebook here.
You can stream Pacific Daydream on Spotify here.
You can stream Pacific Daydream on Deezer here.
You can stream Pacific Daydream on Tidal here.
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