Review Summary: Weezer's album six. A very interesting album by anyones standards.
The red Album Deluxe edition
If you’re a complete weirdo searching for the perfect formula for a pop song, it’s bound to be a hit and miss world, and that’s what makes this album so interesting. We’ve seen Weezer turn from a powerpop garage band; to an emo era 90’s rock band, and to it’s recent maturity and recognition as the leading powerpop band of our time; no doubt something’s got to be different right? Well yes, everything and then again nothing. Some songs don’t sound like Weezer at all, whereas some sound as they could’ve been ripped straight from ‘SFTBH’, but in the end it’s just another highly listenable record from a great pop-band.
The first question you are going to ask yourself about this record will probably be “ Is an extra fiver for 4 original songs worth my money?” Well funnily enough, those four outtakes are almost worth more than the rest of the album itself, (not implying that the first ten are horrific) seemingly not making it onto the standard edition because the songs sound too similar to the bands older work.
The first negative point I can make about this album is unfortunately its flow as an album. There’s no specific vibe going on due to the bands experimentation, so there is not a great deal of nice transitions between tracks. Tracks either cut-out and keep you waiting in the dark or just sound way too different to be placed coherently next to each other. This is especially suspect when the other band members take lead vocals. However, this doesn’t make the album much less listenable. The reason being is the production work on every single song. The guitars are crisper, crunchier and as twangy as ever, with amazing level changes and transitions between sections in songs, especially the exceptional rockers “Pork and beans” and “The Greatest man…” Don’t fear either if your production values don’t exceed a tramps income, as new Weezer classic “Miss Sweeney” and 6 minute epic “The Angel and the One” boast a very Pinkerton-esque production vibe, with a little lick of paint.
The other major blow to the album’s credibility are the seemingly lacklustre lyrics. The way in which Rivers bigs himself up in the majority of songs with lines like “ I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker, doing things my own way and never givin’ up” (and there’s plenty more where that came from) and “ and his pre-meditated speech in ‘The greatest man’. However I can honestly say I’ve welcomed every lyric on this album, only because I’m used to embracing every awkward word or Phrase Rivers has ever uttered with open arms since the Blue album. Anyway, that’s not to say all the lyrics are laughable and uninspiring. “The Angel and the One”, “Pig” and “The Spider” are probably three of the bands most beautiful songs musically and lyrically since 1996’s ‘Pinkerton’.
The ‘Red albums’ biggest let downs are by far ‘Heart songs’ which almost sounds like a Justin Timberlake acoustic jam and ‘Everybody get Dangerous’, with its highly uninspiring guitar work and cringe-worthy vocal work (no more boo-yaaah’s please…). However, Rivers and co seem to have taken indirect actions of consideration to the people via placing these songs as tracks 4 and 5; meaning you can listen to the first three *chongers* and skip straight to chonger number 4 “Dreamin’”. Funnily enough this simple technique improves the ‘Red album’ by another half point.
So how well do the other members of the band demonstrate their vocal abilities? In the grand scheme of things… very well. Brian Bells “Thought I knew” is a great tune to bop along to whilst driving, same with Pat Wilson’s “Automatic”, which could be the big brother of 2002’s “Fall together”. Scott Shriners vocals don’t come through on “Cold dark world” or “King” as much as they do on the charming cover of The Bands’ ‘The Weight’. His voice gives the song clarity and sincerity, along with a beautiful natural tone. The greatest thing about this album is the vocal delivery and harmony on the majority of tracks. The complex barbershop/ choir/gospel vocals performed by all four members are nothing shorter than breathtaking.
To conclude this short review I’d happily recommend this record to everyone, knowing that some will love and some will hate, and a lot of other will be ‘meh’; but the Red album is a good honest, creative slice of Weezer history, with plenty of happy, sad and odd tunes for you to bounce around to (and it looks really cool and vibrant amongst the rest of your collection).
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (variations on a shaker hymn)
Pork and Beans
The Angel and The One
* A ‘chonger’ or ‘chonga’ is used in terms with either ‘A Very Good Tune’ or ‘A Very Big Joint’.