Review Summary: Weezer's apparent 'return-to-form' is nothing but hype
How does one review a Weezer album? Their glory days are so far behind them it’s as if they never existed, so is it really fair to use the seminal releases of The Blue Album
as a yard stick to which any of their subsequent albums should be measured? It probably is, because after all they are the only reason why I or any other serious alternative music publication is taking the time to review them. Those early two records were so good that we’re stuck reviewing their current crock of *** on good faith and that alone. I’m afraid it’s not because the nonsense-titled Raditude
showed so much promise. That album was neither ‘rad’ nor did it contain any semblance of attitude. Shattitude
(best I could do) might have been a more apt fabricated word to dub it, although I am aware that this still has the word attitude in. But this is alright, because in reality there was an attitude in Raditude, and it’s one Rivers Cuomo has been peddling for some time now - that of his inner 15-year-old adolescent self.
was wrongly panned by a majority of critics upon its release, it seems Cuomo was hit hard and developed a fear of writing about his actual feelings. He’s now happy enough to make up juvenile lyrics about girls and being people’s daddies instead, whatever that even means. The man is 40 years old - he should be talking about women, not girls. And he actually is a daddy, so time to get responsible.
This trend continues in Hurley
, an album named after the much-loved Lost character. Alarm bells should be ringing right about now, if they hadn’t already started when you saw the cover art. In fact, there’s an alternative explanation for the album being named so, that it was financed by the clothing brand of the same name. The band have since refuted this, which is a shame, because I would have rather they had just sold-out completely than proved themselves to be as mindlessly unaware as we all suspected they might be but didn’t dare say.
The album kicks off with ‘Memories’, a track full of energy, but lacking in every other regard. Weezer are no strangers to the power of nostalgia - even five albums into their career they were already cashing in on their debut’s distinctive cover art – and this track, and the whole album, is no exception. Thinly veiled pop-culture references are abundant with the sole aim to invoke fond memories: “Pissing in plastic cups before we went on stage / Playing hackey sack back when Audioslave were still Rage.” At least in this song Cuomo acknowledges the fact that he is a fully-grown adult, and he’s just wistful for those old days. Later on is a different story with Cuomo pining over ‘Smart Girls’: “Smart girls, never get enough of those smart girls, sleeping in the buff.” Grow up.
Luckily, ‘Ruling Me’ is a song that’s largely untainted by Cuomo’s pubescent friskiness, and it’s probably the best song on the album. It’s a love song with Beach Boys-esque harmonies, and it’s believable enough, but didn’t you just prefer when instead he’d fallen in love with an 18-year-old girl in Japan he’d never get to meet? That was real heartbreak.
‘Where’s My Sex?’ sees Cuomo with his tongue pressed so hard in his cheek he should be careful not to get cramp. It’s apparently funny; Cuomo heard a family member become an unsuspecting victim of a Freudian slip when asking if anyone had seen their socks, or so the story goes. It’s just an unfortunate title, too similar to the majestic Pinkerton
opener ‘Tired of Sex’. The songs differ so much in quality it’s not worth running a musical comparison. It’s probably the only nostalgia trip that actually works on this hardened Weezer-cynic though, albeit a counter-productive one as all it serves to do is point out the flaws in their current album by (probably unintentionally) invoking memories of their best.
In actuality, the answer to my original question is irrelevant; it really doesn’t matter how you judge a Weezer album, because odds are on all counts it’s going to be bad these days. I just hope that the stark contrast between this album and their brace of classics only accentuates their greatness, rather than taint their memory.
Written for www.nightbus.tumblr.com