Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Punk-Pop, Power Pop
Taking the notion of self-titled albums standing as a statement of identity to an extreme, Weezer puts out a self-titled record whenever they're ready to enter a new phase of their career. Designed to be dubbed The White Album -- a nice cheeky nod to the classic 1968 double album from the Beatles -- the 2016 installment of Weezer isn't nearly as messy as the group's last color-coded eponymous record. With that 2008 Red Album, Weezer embarked on a confused and chaotic middle age, an era that the tight, focused White Album effectively brings to an end.
Review Summary: Rockin’ out like it’s ’94. When Weezer pledged a return to roots on Everything Will Be Alright In The End’s ‘Back to the Shack’, it was easy to scoff at their enthusiasm. Following an entire decade of less than gratifying releases, that single felt like it’d end up being one of those gotcha moments, in which you allow yourself to get caught up enough in all the nostalgia to go and buy the album, only to find that you’d been sucker punched and had twelve dollars stolen from your wallet by eleven-or-so mediocre songs.
?I have long been a simpering Weezer apologist. Every passing album cycle since 2005’s Make Believe has given me cause for hope, despair, and confusion - but I still keep coming back for more. And why, exactly? What twisted loyalty keeps me trapped in a loveless, one-sided relationship with a band whose best output is commonly considered to be twenty years behind them? Is this how it feels being an Oasis fan, too? Popular wisdom is often wrong, though, and I've somehow found a shred of merit in every album Weezer have put out - even Raditude - had that one killer single.
Iâ€™ve never picked up a Weezer album with the intention of disliking it. Every collection in their catalogue Iâ€™ve aurally entered with childlike optimism. For a while, it was emotionally crushing. But on Everything Will Be Alright in the End, Rivers Cuomo and company began a pseudo comeback.
For better or worse, the perpetually young Rivers Cuomo usually prevails when he’s able to channel his fragile sensitivity into song form. It’s been fascinating to see how he’s been able to mature into his forties while trying to beat the clock of the generations that pass, something that has made the regular Weezer fan either cringe or jump for joy. It’s been frustrating, and oftentimes infuriating, to see him go through all this shuffling of personalities, as the past decade has seen him turn from pro-meme convert and skate boy idealist to serviceable nostalgist.
There’s something reassuringly bold about Weezer’s decision to call this – or not call this, to be exact – the ‘White’ album. Clever, too, as combining the chosen colours of their three previous self-titled records - 1994’s ‘Blue’, 2001’s ‘Green’ and 2008’s ‘Red’ – creates… you guessed it. Mixing up the sounds of the songs contained within those bright sleeves would have a similar effect: opening track ‘California Kids’ begins, along with the sounds of crashing waves, near-identically to ‘Pinkerton”s ‘Pink Triangle’, the middle-eights of both ‘(Girl We Got A) Good Thing’ and ‘Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori’ are familiarly majestic, and closer ‘Endless Bummer’ reaches its climax in a not-entirely-different way to ‘Blue”s ‘Only In Dreams’, albeit much more quickly.
Well, it only took ‘em 20 years. The half-decade hiatus that Weezer started in 1996 after their epochal first two albums — and the sonically streamlined, emotionally neutralized third album they eventually returned with in 2001 — gave fans a case of Blue balls for which the band has never truly provided relief. For two decades, Rivers Cuomo & Co.
Despite Weezer’s history of colorful albums, much of the Los Angeles-based four-piece’s history is characterized by black and white. There are few who would debate the iconic status of the group’s first couple of albums, just like there aren’t many besides the apologists who would go to bat for the group’s creative lows of Raditude and The Red Album. But then in late 2014, something interesting happened for the group.
It’s official. Weezer’s surprising, long hoped-for return to form on 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End was not a one-off fluke. The band’s new album, its fourth self-titled, is just as fun and possibly even more consistent than Everything. We’re supposed to call this one “The White Album”, as its black and white cover photo shows the band standing in the shade of a white lifeguard tower, surrounded by white beach sand and white sky.
'The White Album'. Reviewed. For nearly 25 years now, Weezer have been plying their gawky, open-hearted pop-rock trade with, it’s fair to say, mixed results. At their best, the band are capable of moments of claustrophobic, emotional exploration (1996’s ‘Pinkerton’) and shimmering, summer-soundtracking glee (1994’s ‘Weezer’ – known to most as ‘The Blue Album’).
It's now been 20 years since Weezer released a classic album, and even their most devoted fans have doubtless given up hope that they will ever be able to recapture their past glory. All we can hope for now is a batch of good-not-great power-pop anthems to enjoy while driving around with the windows rolled down, but on that count, the so-called White Album (the band's fourth colour-coded eponymous LP) exceeds even the most optimistic of expectations. This is excellent news for anyone who was turned away by the ghastly lead single, "Thank God for Girls," a rap-rock monstrosity with head-scratching lyrics that careen between gender stereotypes, references to online dating and gluttonous fantasies about Italian pastry.
For many, Weezer’s last outing, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, marked something of a return to form for the band. While their ninth effort was not quite up there with their hugely influential and critically-acclaimed first two records – The Blue Album and Pinkerton – it demonstrated that Rivers Cuomo and co had not completely lost the infectious spark that saw them make such an impact in the mid-’90s. The record continued an upward trajectory that had first been initiated by 2010’s Hurley, which followed a series of releases from Weezer that had fallen well below expectations, culminating in the failed experiment of Raditude.
In 2014, amidst the wreckage of a long, dispiriting bid for mainstream pop crossover, Weezer faced a disenchanted fanbase and promised them Everything Will Be All Right in the End. That album was framed as an extended mea culpa for the folks who had stuck it out through the "Beverly Hills"s, the "boo-yah"s, and the side collaborations with flat-earth rapper B.o.B. It was by no means an empty apology: the album proved refreshing and reassuring, their best in years, and frontman Rivers Cuomo seemed to have bested the curse that had been hovering over them for the past decade.
The Weezer cult will always rest on the band's 1996 overshare masterpiece, Pinkerton, where Rivers Cuomo bared his soul about his fears and fantasies, sniffing a teenage Japanese girl's fan letters and drooling over cello players. Latter-day Weezer fans understandably cherish the myth that Pinkerton was reviled by the adult world, but in truth, nobody even noticed it; there were loads of major-label sophomore flops in 1996 (Weezer's sold slightly better than Sponge's, slightly worse than the Gin Blossoms'). Yet Cuomo took it hard.
The release of a new Weezer record always seems to cause as much trepidation as it does excitement. Their fans are loyal and often near-exclusive; there's even a blog dedicated to finding new music that sounds like "old Weezer." The blog's necessity is due to Weezer's stumble into a void of insufferable pop rock. A small section of the Weezer faithful were courteous enough to interpret it as being a calculated and witty stab at the state of popular music; most of them were less kind.
The White Album arrives during the fourteenth year of River Cuomo's Peter Pan performance. Between Maladroit and Hurley, Cuomo and his band Weezer resisted musical maturity in the hope of finding a "new audience" by releasing a stream of albums that were as bizarre as they were mediocre. Rivers seemed like a lost cause after the hilariously disastrous Raditude in 2009, but there were instances of self-awareness on the band's 2014 album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, through which he reluctantly admitted he'd dropped the ball.
After a run of weakly received albums, 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End represented a return to respectability for Weezer, with lead singer Rivers Cuomo tapping into the vulnerability and ennui that made the band’s second album Pinkerton such an absorbing listen. This, their fourth, self-titled LP (informally known as ‘the White Album”), continues that gentle upswing in form, channelling the buoyant surf rock of their debut, Blue. LA Girlz (awful title aside) is the sort of stirring power pop Cuomo could bash out in an afternoon back in the band’s glory days, while recent single King of the World is big, dumb and crunchy in the manner of early hit Undone (The Sweater Song).
“Do you wanna get high? Don’t need no dinner tonight,” asks Rivers Cuomo midway through this, the tenth album in Weezer’s long and often undistinguished discography. Tempting, Rivers, but no; you are a 45-year-old grown man. A little over 18 months ago, Weezer promised to take us ‘Back to the Shack’ on the surprisingly-really-good Everything Will Be All Right in the End.
Much has been written about the so-called Weezer renaissance of the past few years, a period that began with 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End which saw the group reunite with longtime producer Ric Ocasek for their least-detested album in some time. (In some alternate universe, that’s actually become a compliment for the band who have virtually become the epitome of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” since dropping Pinkerton in 1996. ) So it’s easy not to hold it against Cuomo when he bemoans references to his band’s alleged comeback in the press, as if he’s finally bowed to the critical slings and arrows and time-traveled back to the mid-’90s to channel his band’s early days.
It’s a fan-pleasing record that’s actually more Beach Boys than peak Beatles: ‘King Of The World’ and ‘LA Girlz’ are noble throwbacks to the quirky grunge of Weezer’s debut and Cuomo maintains his collegiate appeal by peppering consistently ultra-accessible melodies with references to Charles Darwin, the Torah, Lewis Carroll, Dante, the Creationist myth, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams and spots of lady-celebrating Latin. Does this ‘White Album’ redefine rock? No. Does it define Weezer’s career? Absolutely.
In 2014, a surprising thing happened: Weezer released a good album. Let’s be honest—ever since The Red Album, every new Weezer record has been briefly hailed as a return to form, often by frontman Rivers Cuomo himself. And then, after a few days, fans would realize it didn’t have nearly the staying power of past efforts. Everything Will Be Alright In The End was the exception.
Weezer’s fourth “Weezer” begins with a call to head to California when all else seems lost, and ends with the line “I just want the summer to end.” Once again, frontman Rivers Cuomo never met a good time he couldn’t feel deeply ambivalent about. On the surface, the album is as breezy as its overarching sun-and-surf theme would suggest; three songs have “girl” in the title (“Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” misses on a technicality) and the triumphant “Wind in Our Sail” and “King of the World” spring from feelings of Zen indestructibility. But there are signs aplenty that the beach-party lifestyle won’t cure what ails Cuomo: meth-snorting slacker babes, airplane disasters, and so on.
THESE GUYS AGAIN. How many albums is that now? 10? Oh, seriously, 10 albums? Well, good for them (him), I guess. There aren’t many Mainstream Rock bands still going, especially on the power-pop end of things, and tune-wise they sure beat the Foo Fighters. More “fun”, as they say. “You don.