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. After all, that was the post-Maladroit track record that Weezer had established for themselves, and it was a deep enough hole that even their surprisingly excellent 2014 record, which shattered expectations in several ways, still felt like a trap. We had all been there before – Weezer, making Weezer music, ready to betray us with something as wholly ineffectual as Ratitude
. But that’s the beautiful thing about The White Album
. Not only is it our long awaited answer to Pinkerton, but it marks back-to-back triumphs in what can only be considered a successful comeback. It’s hard to believe that one of the most anticipated albums of the year is a Weezer record, and even harder to believe that they’ve once again exceeded anything we could have reasonably expected from them. It may not be 1994, but this is as close as we'll ever get to reliving the band’s glory days...and to be genuinely excited about Weezer again is a gift most of us never thought we’d get.
The White Album
feels effortless. That should come as excellent news to anyone who witnessed how hard they had to try on Make Believe
, The Red Album
, and really all of Maladroit
’s successors. It’s not that all of those albums were just bad
; there were worthwhile moments to be plucked from any of those releases no matter how valiantly some of us may deny it. However, one of Weezer’s primary appeals has always been their awkward, fumbling-through-the-life-of-a-geek persona. Here, that endearing nerd culture feels authentic again, and less like a marketing ploy used to trick wide-eyed Blue Album
fans into spending their hard earned cash on yet another let down. When the sounds of the Pacific Ocean flood through your speaker on ‘California Kids’, it signals the end of the disappointing Weezer
era and the start of a second wind that will hopefully carry its momentum for a long, long time.
Opening with waves, seagulls, and all things beach-related, ‘California Kids’ gets The White Album
rolling along pretty quickly. It reaches its Beach Boy-esque chorus in less than a minute, and with punchy verses and a brief but effective guitar solo, Weezer immediately find themselves in their finest hour. That momentum isn’t squandered, as ‘Wind In Our Sails’ bounces atop playful keyboards and a chorus that erupts in euphoria while featuring lyrics only Rivers Cuomo could pull off, “We got the wind in our sail / Like Darwin on the Beagle / Or Mendel experimenting with a pea / We got the wind in our sail / And we can do so many great things together.” It’s the type of track that is perfect for driving along the coastline with your hood down; free and romantic yet entirely rooted in the tongue-in-cheek clumsiness that makes Weezer who they are. Two tracks in, it’s apparent that The White Album
is something else entirely – and to be quite honest, it’s nothing compared to what is on-deck.
Perhaps the greatest song Weezer has written in over a decade, ‘Thank God For Girls’ marks the creative highlight of the band’s late career. It’s so
ridiculous. Rivers sings about a big fat cannoli, the underwear page of a Sears catalogue, God and Adam, and basically anything else that doesn’t go together, and pulls it off in a totally gratifying and hilarious fashion. The whole thing comes off as sort of an exercise in geek empowerment, praising girls he can’t have (“I'm so glad I got a girl to think of even though she isn't mine / I think about her all the day and all the night / It's enough to know that she's alive”) while being preoccupied with quirky hobbies (“In the woods with your bros that you’ve known since second grade / And you may encounter dragons or ruffians and be called upon / To employ your testosterone / In a battle for supremacy and access to females glued to the TV”). There literally couldn’t be a song that better personifies what Weezer is all about, and to have it come so early on in the album is a reassuring thing for any listener who entered the experience with doubts. ‘(Girl We Got A) Good Thing’ takes us from oddball lyricism to a straightforward summer jam, complete with a stomp-along beat, tambourines, and sizzling electric guitars that sound like they’re one ray of sunshine away from catching on fire. Here, Rivers and company have crafted their definitive summer pop anthem, and it’s easily the most plainly enjoyable tune that The White Album
has to offer.
The album’s midsection and latter portions never lose focus of what Weezer set out to accomplish here. Not every single track matches the keen buzz of the opening four, but there’s nary a disappointing moment to be found. ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’ gradually builds towards one of the messiest sounding crescendos we’ve heard from the band in a while (squealing guitars, sloppily implemented vocals – think ‘Sweater Song’), while ‘King Of The World’ harkens back to quintessential Blue Album
Weezer with its massive hooks, whoah-oh
’s, and quirky intro. Perhaps the most unexpectedly satisfying thing about The White Album
is the way it closes the curtain, getting stronger and stronger melodically even as it loses steam tempo-wise. ‘L.A. Girlz’ has the kind of forlorn air that ‘Island In The Sun’ once displayed, and reminds listeners that amidst the peculiar humor sense and self-deprecation, Rivers remains the hopeless romantic that we all grew to love so long ago: “I love your long hair but you just don’t care / does anybody love anybody as much as I love you, baby?” It’s the perfect late-album gem – emotional and meaningful, like a cool evening breeze blowing off the ocean after a long day out in the sun. Finally, we’re met with the duo of ‘Jacked Up’ and ‘Endless Bummer’, which on the surface sound like awful variations of dude rock, but together mark the perfect way to punctuate Weezer’s return to the fountain of youth. The former is a no holds barred piano rocker, in which Rivers does his best Andrew McMahon impression – with unforgettable (and surprisingly decent) falsetto notes atop rhythmic piano and the unforgettable verse “I’d bury diamonds just for you.” The latter is your standard last song acoustic ballad
, but it’s a well-executed one at that. Commencing with slow, calculated strums and downtrodden vocals (“not all 19 year olds are cool”), it eventually reaches a natural point in its progression where it is able to burst forth with adrenaline, showering listeners with thunderous drum beats and wailing electric guitars that signal the end of summer – “Kumbaya makes me get violent / I just want this summer to end .”
The White Album
manages to deliver on the promise showed by The Blue Album
without spending the entire time treading on familiar ground. Glowing with shades of the band’s past while differentiating its approach, The White Album
sounds like a Weezer revitalized, reloaded, and ready to rock out like it’s ’94. It will be difficult for many longtime fans to contain their enthusiasm or use any amount of restraint when discussing this album, and it’s for good reason. That’s part of why this album is so great; I mean, when was the last time you were so excited over Weezer that it was difficult not to be hyperbolic? If Everything Will Be Alright In The End
saw Rivers and company starting to pull themselves up, then this is them hitting the pavement with both feet running. Make no mistake, The White Album
is the long awaited and worthy successor toPinkerton
. And that’s not an exaggeration of any kind.