Rock Review: Weezer’s White Hot New Release Is Among Their Best

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Our music writer, Zach Buggy, reviews the latest release from Californian power-pop legends Weezer…

WeezerWeezer – The White Album

On April 1st 2016,  Weezer released their tenth full-length record, tentatively titled The White Album.

Now, those familiar with the band might recognise this to be the fourth in a pattern of colours they’ve been dabbling in since their 1994 debut – The Blue Album.

Since then, we’ve also had Green (2001) and Red (2008), and now, we have White, defined as the blending and containing of all colours of the spectrum.

At first perceived by some to be an April Fools’ joke, no one could have ever expected The White Album to be one of the best (and most aptly titled) of the band’s career. Fusing old and new, blending pop with rock, mixing all of the colours (if you will), Weezer main-man Rivers Cuomo has seemingly lost his mind, and the results are astounding.

From the infectious hook of ‘Wind In Our Sail’ where Cuomo hollers “We got the wind in our sail like Darwin on the Beagle or Mandle experimenting with the pea” to album highlight ‘L.A. Girlz’, we hear a more abstract, narrative-based, and unhinged side to Weezer lyrics than we’ve had in a long time – “I think that I’m losing it, mixing ammonia and bleach. I’ll get off at Pico and sell my possessions so you will know just how I feel.”

Appearing to have somewhat lost their edge in recent years, the group had fallen into a routine of releasing good (not great) pop records that held very little in regards to lasting value. 2014 saw the arrival of their ninth album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, which beckoned a return to form, but ended up a victim of its own hype.

Learning from their mistakes, this time around the band chose to keep hush about a new record; instead releasing single after single, testing the waters as it were.

The first, ‘Thank God For Girls’ is easily one of the most bizarre, catchy and original pop songs of the 21st Century. It was evident that Weezer were on route to releasing their best album in almost fifteen years. Fast forward a few months, and they have more than delivered.

This is the Weezer that fans have been bemoaning the loss of for years. If The Blue Album and Pinkerton were Cuomo as a young, frustrated soul, expressing himself through obscure allusions to literature, then The White Album is that same mind-set on older, goofier shoulders.

With talk of Dante and Beatrice, and references to Lewis Carroll, this is the strange, vulnerable, oddball Rivers Cuomo that fans fell in love with over 20 years ago.

Less concerned with writing “hits” anymore, Cuomo has truly found his voice again. Not shying away from his absurd metaphors, and truly embracing his eccentric weirdness is all fans have wanted for so, so long.

This is most prevalent on ‘King of the World’, a track written about Cuomo’s wife, and her severe anxiety. To hear any other artist exclaim; “We could ride a Greyhound all the way to the Galapagos and stay for the rest of our lives”, would be unusual, but it couldn’t make more sense coming from the mind behind such classics as ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’ and ‘El Scorcho’.

The rest of the band are also on top form, with drummer Pat Wilson putting in arguably the best performance of his career, and bassist Scott Shriner adding piano and keys to the mix.

This offers an entirely new side to the band, with standout track ‘Jacked Up’ shifting practically all focus away from guitars and onto the fantastic back-and-forth rhythm of the percussion and piano. This track also features one of Cuomo’s finest vocal performances to date.

To think that in 2016, a band like Weezer could release their tenth album, and not only have it be one of the best of their career, but also one of the year’s top releases.

It almost seems bizarre, and that’s what this record is. It’s happy, sad, loud, soft, but the entire time bearing a sunny aesthetic; almost as if the band exclusively listened to The Beach Boys and hung out by the sea while writing. The album’s positive vibes are shrouded in an air of sadness, or longing, similar to the bittersweet sting of nostalgia.

Cuomo has stated that the vast majority of the songs are inspired by the different characters he met via Tinder.

The artwork depicts the band on the beach, standing in front of a tower – Tower 28 to be precise. Here is where Cuomo met his different song prospects, day in day out, getting to know about them and taking inspiration to craft these summery, strange stories.

A concept album of sorts, by the end, you’ve followed Cuomo and the rest of the band through these tales of love, longing, and anxiety. Some personal. Some picked up at the beach.

All written with a personalised quirkiness (which has made Cuomo the dynamic writer that he is), and a total sense of relatability. We’ve all had that special summer. The one filled with the greatest of memories and the worst of regrets. The White Album is the soundtrack to that summer.

On their triumphant return, Weezer have crafted a cohesive, honest, and most of all, fun record, that takes influence and inspiration from everything from classic literature to summer flings, bible passages to spousal anecdotes, youth to maturity.

All while being one of the freshest, and most original pop-rock records of the year.


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