Release Date: Mar 1, 2019
Record label: Atlantic
Rivers Cuomo rumbled about recording The Black Album back in 2016, when he was in the thick of promoting The White Album -- a record designed to modernize the adolescent angst at the heart of Weezer's earliest music. Cuomo gamely pursued this concept with Jake Sinclair, a producer weaned on '90s Weezer, but once The White Album hit the stores, he seemed more interested in creating its counterpart, a record that abandons the light for dark, where the vocalist sings profanities on record for the first time. It was a high concept for a band so devoted to high concepts it couldn't resist recording two other conceptual records -- Pacific Daydream, a 2017 LP which was another salute to the West Coast, and a surprise covers album called The Teal Album -- before unleashing The Black Album in March 2019.
Weezer were easy to pin down once: heralded as power pop geniuses in 1994, they were the kings of disappointment by 2005 and the butt of every joke by 2010. Even their recent renaissance period was dismissed by those whose patience had worn thin. And when a 'super dark' counterpart to Weezer (White Album) (2016) - intriguingly teased as Weezer (Black Album) - suffered several delays that saw Pacific Daydream (2017) meekly offered up instead, those reluctant to herald any resurgence felt justified.
The LA band have made a wilfully goofy album whose jokes wear pretty thin, pretty fast - though this is a largely solid alt-pop record nonetheless This started 14 years ago. Weezer began their transition from legit college rock heroes to ironic in-jokers with 2005's 'Make Believe', which featured the likeable singalong single 'Beverly Hills' - and a whole lot of mugging, forgettable, tongue-in-cheek and faux-emotional guitar-pop. This is a furrow that the LA quartet have since ploughed relentlessly, culminating in this year's 'The Teal Album', an amuse-bouche that consisted of jovial covers of songs your Auntie Sarah played at her second wedding ('Africa' by Toto is now on of their biggest hits).
Every few years, it seems, Weezer decide to embrace the zeitgeist. Sometimes it works (nabbing Calpurnia to star in their latest video, last year's cover of 'Africa'), sometimes it doesn't (the whole of 'Raditude'). Mostly, the group find themselves eternally hamstrung by the cult status of their first two albums: by most standards, latest pair 2017's 'Pacific Daydream' and the self-titled 'White' album released the year previous would be exceptional.
In 1998, two years after Pinkerton debuted to poor reviews, Rivers Cuomo retreated to a one-room bedsit beneath a Los Angeles freeway. He painted the walls and ceilings black, and on the windows, he layered black bed-sheets over thick fiberglass insulation. Devastated by the negative response to Pinkerton, and frustrated by an unproductive spate of rehearsals, he withdrew from his band, and then from the world.
Download | Listen via Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Radio Public | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: When a band has a career that spans across decades, there's usually a good reason behind it. In the case of Weezer, their longevity has arguably stemmed from the fact that they released two albums early in their career, The Blue Album and Pinkerton, that went on to be major hits and '90s landscape changers. When a band raises the bar so high so early on, it can be difficult to maintain upward momentum.
Dear Weezer, What happened? Time after time, my undying love for Weezer has been tested to the limits -- so much so that it has become too one-sided to bear. I don't typically think of myself as a glutton for punishment, but with each passing record, it seems I possess some unchecked desire toward sadistic insanity. Up to this point, I've listened to, struggled through, but somehow found some sort of value in every one of the band's albums--yes, even in Raditude.
When Rivers Cuomo's Californian crew rode the post-grunge wave to glory on their debut Blue Album and heart-worn classic follow-up Pinkerton in 1994 and 1996 respectively, we never could have imagined just how saddening and crushingly disappointing Weezer's career would be over the next 20+ years. Earlier in 2019 they dropped Weezer (The Teal Album), a selection of covers so boneheadedly obvious and performed with such c-grade wedding band aplomb that we could be forgiven for thinking it was part of some long-form situationist joke, perhaps one that started as far back as 2010, when they began covering Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag" live— coincidentally the same year a group of fans banded together to offer the band $10 million to split up stating "I beg you, Weezer, take our money and disappear. " Disappear they did not, and, despite having committed various atrocities against not only their legacy and fans but to music in general over the years, their sixth self-titled album is a new low, even by their comically slack standards.
"Sorry guys I didn't realize that I needed you so much I thought I'd get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks. " -Weezer, five years ago How quickly Weezer have forgotten the promises made on their 2014 lead single, "Back to the Shack," where they vowed that they "belong in the rock world. " Despite having a whole song apologizing for their dancier experiments of Raditude and Hurley, particularly the embarrassing "Can't Stop Partying" with Lil Wayne, Weezer returns with their sixth self-titled album (their second of this year), The Black Album, going back on all of the promises of "Back to the Shack" and incorporating dance elements into their music once again.
So, I mean, this album isn’t dark. Like at all. There is a histrionic song about cake. And it starts with “doo doo doo doo’s”. It has almost the exact same riff as “Beautiful” by Moby, a song I almost guarantee you have never heard. The song is called ….
On the back of the fan requested viral cover of Toto's 'Africa' comes 'The Black Album' from the band who fashioned some of the biggest adolescent American movie soundtrack hits of the 90's. It is the fifth installment in a succession of colour-coded albums from the quirky Californian quintet, and perhaps it should be their last if this is the direction they are intent on pursuing. Following an unconventional writing process and working with Dave Sitek of New York art-rockers TV On The Radio, frontman Rivers Cuomo put the band on a new trajectory with a more sonically diverse sound.