Review Summary: Loud Guitar Rock With a Heart
Weezer (Self-Titled "Blue Album")
Good music helps you tap into the emotions of its creators. If you can communicate your sincere optimism, fury, happiness, anger or nostalgic whimsy through music, your guitar-strumming hand is truly worth its weight in gold, my friend.
That's why I detest phony music. Angst-filled twentysomethings recycling chords and lyrics, shrieking unintelligibly and sitting against a brick wall for photo shoots isn't interesting - it's just stupid and boring
The best music can make you feel
; cool, nostalgic, happy - it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that you identify
with the music a certain way. As long as it's not . . boring
I'm happy to report that Weezer's early work is not. Weezer is one of those wonderful bands of the early- to mid-nineties who blended in just enough with the musical expectations of the then- current rock scene to go mainstream, but used the medium (rather than letting themselves
be used by it); in short, Weezer's first two albums brimmed with enough creativity, sincerity and general great
ness to stand out among the pretenders of the genre.
Weezer's music is wonderfully escapist - it makes me nostalgic for a time period that, as far as I'm concerned, never existed. Dungeons and Dragons. Gargoyle rock band "KISS". The X-Men cartoon.
Heck, go even farther back - poodle skirts. Elvis mania. Malt shops.
Even - why not? - the Fonz. Because while the fuzzy guitars and cuddly walls of sound initially paint images of "me too" contemporary rock, the vibe of this record is firmly pressed into the Beach Boys era. This record is the best of both worlds: a world-weary party band. (A must-see: the band's Happy
Days-infused "Buddy Holly" music video.)
Weezer's self-titled is slackerly, party-hearty and self-serious - all of the things that made rock music great. But it's also carefully constructed, sincere and has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.
Weezer understands the solo value of an electric harmonica, the occasional beauty of a really
long song (of which this album features only one, thankfully). The whole album flows by with a breezy, careful optimism - cathartic and sublime. In short, this record features everything that Weezer's later musical releases have lacked: substance. The band threw themselves wholly into their first two records, and it shows.
My Name is Jonas:
Opening with a great chord-plucking intro, this song opens the album wonderfully, coolly balancing loud and soft peaks of fuzzy noise. Weezer's occasional minimalism really shines here; in the halls of the power chord masters, Weezer occupies the same unavoidably-mainstream pedestal as Green Day. The lyrics are as nostalgic and obtuse as ever:
"Come sit next to me,
Pour yourself some tea.
Just like Grandma made
When we couldn't find sleep. . ."
If nothing else, Weezer and associated "modern rockers" like Green Day prove that "mainstream" doesn't always equal "bad". Properly handled, a power chord can communicate as effectively as any sitar or tweaked accordion. Maybe I'm biased.
(Yes, I'm well aware that Green Day and Weezer are nothing
alike, except in the sense that they are outwardly mainstream yet inwardly clever and original. I simply mean to point out that they are often associated.)
No One Else:
A much breezier song than "My Name is Jonas", this track is very boppy and idealistic. The song certainly isn't politically correct, but it's upbeat just the same:
"I want a girl who will laugh for no one else,
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf.
When I'm away she never leaves the house. . ."
You won't find this song on a Sinatra album.
The World Has Turned and Left Me Here:
Basically a self-deluding sad love song. Take note, punk-poppers: it's possible to write a nostalgic love song without using cliched lyrics like "All these questions don't have answers" or "I still feel the same." The words are delightfully contradictory:
"I talked for hours to your wallet photograph, and you just listened. You left enchanted by my intellect, or maybe you didn't."
The biggest hit off of this album, and for a reason. It's consistent the whole way through. Especially when taken in context with its signature music video, "Buddy Holly" can be read as another ode to 60s counterculture, with accompanying 60s style vocals. A solid song that doesn't stick around any longer than it needs to (it's short at just over two-and-a-half minutes).
Undone - The Sweater Song:
Sure, the song is a metaphor for an unraveling relationship, but who cares? It's one of the better riffs I've ever heard, and the ornamental add-ons to the song (long interludes of talking partygoers between verses, a very long outro with random sounds) somehow feel necessary. A great example of multiple vocals, too: the whole band adds to the effort. The solo is nice, too. Another great example of disparate elements coming together perfectly. The weird outro blends in perfectly to the next song:
Surf Wax America:
A great, carefree "wall of sound" song. The guitars envelop the entire room, creating a great atmosphere. It's almost Beach Boys-like in its attitude: "You take your car to work, I'll take my board" and "I'm going surfing, I'm going surfing!" A great vocals and bass interlude leads up to the inevitable
chorus explosion at the end.
Say It Ain't So:
Definitely my favorite song off of this record (if not one of my favorites of all time), "Say It Ain't So" is a perfect mix: soulful, loud and introspective. The main riff is vintage Weezer; simple in its execution yet perfect. This song has a great edge to it.
In the Garage:
More great harmonia-driven nostalgia rock. I read this as a spirited ode to introvertism. The lyrics are comfortable in their scope:
"I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide,
I've got a 12-sided die.
I've got Kitty Pryde, and Nightcrawler too,
Waiting there for me. . ."
If I'd grown up in the eighties, I'm sure that I would have liked this song even more.
More escapist lyrics: "Let's go away for a while - you and I - to a strange and distant land. . .". The chorus is nice - epic yet simple - and the song has a "drift along with the tumbling tumbleweeds" vibe. The soul-driven interlude, complete with a quiet bassline and finger-snapping, is another great Weezer moment.
Only in Dreams:
Get ready for an ordeal. The first time that I listened to it, this eight-minute song nearly drove me up the wall. As my senses gradually began to dim, my only thoughts were: "When will this END!?!" Well, "Only in Dreams" has grown on me - I no longer feel that it's too long - but the incredibly lengthy
solo/interlude will test the nerves of some. My first guess is that it was included to pad the running time of this ten-track album. I now think that it's a great closing number, very well-paced despite its long length. Still, friends will doubtless ask if your CD is skipping toward the end.
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