By: Timothy Coffman, Columnist
Photo courtesy of Consequence of Sound
Weezer has been one of the greatest power pop acts to come out of the 90s, with their first two records, “Weezer (Blue Album)” and “Pinkerton,” being crowning achievements of pop-rock that have been not been matched by any band since. Towards the turn of the century, Weezer did have a rocky run of records. While some records like “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” and “Maladroit” hold up surprisingly well, others present a few good songs and not much else that you would expect from this nerdy ensemble. Recently, the band has gained attraction because of their meme’d cover of Toto’s “Africa,” which became an unexpected hit. With this new record, “Weezer (The Black Album),” how do they attempt to keep their momentum going?
From the start, Weezer has decided to switch up their presentation of their power pop songs. Unlike 2017’s “Pacific Daydream,” their latest self-titled release focuses on an equal division of both keyboard and guitar to flesh out frontman Rivers Cuomo’s compositions. This helps give songs like the album opener “Can’t Knock The Hustle” and “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” the rock edge that seemed to be missing from their previous release.
Cuomo has also written songs that are much hookier, like “The Prince Who Wanted Everything” and “Byzantine.” The greatest example of this is “High As A Kite,” which is the full realization of Weezer’s experimentation with Beach Boys’ style rock that they have been experimenting with for the past few years. The lyrics on the record are far more succinct than expected on Weezer releases, with “Byzantine” being a cute romance song and “I’m Just Being Honest” being about Cuomo trying to keep himself in line and not make a jerk out of himself when he’s in the public eye.
There are some pitfalls that this album falls into though. Songs like “Piece of Cake” can come off somewhat lifeless by comparison to its accompanying tracks, and the album closes on a very confusing note with “California Snow.” This track sounds completely out of place on this album and drives the album to a screeching halt. If the penultimate track “Byzantine” was the final track, this album would maintain a lot more cohesion. These two songs feel like filler tracks on an album that’s a little over 30 minutes, which is not complimentary to Weezer’s track record.
The problem that I have with this album is common of most recent Weezer releases: the album is lopsided. While there are some songs which are fantastic, there are others that pull the project down to only average status. There are a few meaty chunks on this record, but there is also some fat that needs to be trimmed from this thing. While by no means a terrible record, this is probably going to be one where fans are going to pick and choose their favorites and put them on a playlist instead of hearing the entire record, and I can’t say I blame them. Here’s hoping that Weezer refines these problems in the future.