Review Summary: A truly classic rock album that perfectly embodies the sound and feel of the 90s alternative rock scene
When you think of 90s alternative rock, what band comes to mind? Nirvana? Smashing Pumpkins? Soundgarden? Pearl Jam? Red Hot Chili Peppers? The Offspring? While those are great bands, no band exemplifies 90s alt rock better than Weezer. Now yes I am talking about the same band that released the MTV hit "Beverly Hills" and made that crappy album with the somewhat humorous picture of a dog jumping over a couch. However, pretend that is a completely different band. Sound wise, 90s Weezer might as well have been a different band. They only released two full albums in this time period (Blue and Pinkerton) and I'm sure any fan would say those are their best work. Take a moment to forget all the other albums and realize how great of a band Weezer really is (or, um, was.)
Rivers Cuomo is an amazing songwriter. Even with the new stuff, you can't deny it is catchy as hell. Cuomo has a true gift when it comes to writing. However on this album, the songs are catchy and GOOD. Very good. Opener "My Name Is Jonas" is a wonderfully catchy song with one of my favorite riffs ever. The guitars play off of each other beautifully, and the drums keep a very good beat throughout. The musicianship on the entire album is great. Very tight. Even though this is just a debut album, the band sounds like they have been playing together for years. The guitars have a great tone, and while the songs are relatively simple to play, the guitarists do a wonderful job of making solid, catchy riffs. "Buddy Holly" is considered a classic alt rock song, and that's because the riff could be stuck in your head for days, and the solo is beautifully simplistic. Rivers can play guitar pretty well though, and has some nice solos, my favorite one being in "Say It Ain't So". The solo isn't very complicated, but you can tell he put a lot of emotion into it.
In the end that's what makes this album so great. Emotion. The lyrics may not make much sense upon first listen, but you can tell Rivers poured his heart and soul into them. "My Name Is Jonas" is a great example, presumably about the hardships of growing up and moving on with life. "Say It Ain't So" is a great song about his alcoholic, abusive father. The lyrics may seem silly ("flip on the telly, wrestle with jimmy") but again they seem to have a meaning behind them. Alt rock is also known for being a little geeky, and Weezer are the biggest geeks out there. "In The Garage" is about sitting alone in your garage playing guitar and Dungeons and Dragons, nobody around to make fun of your "unique" ways. I'm somewhat of a geek myself, and I find that part of Weezer to be hilariously relatable. Weezer tell the truth in their lyrics, they don't try to use any fancy poetry, but they don't ramble on about relationships either. Not in the traditional sense anyway.
The topic of relationships brings on my next point, "Only In Dreams." This album closer is one of my favorite songs of all time, and is considered by many, including myself, to be the band's best song. The lyrics concern dreaming about that special girl, holding her hand, but hen waking up all alone. You realize it can only happen in dreams. Very sad but relatable song. The music in this album is perfect. As before never too complicated, but the instrumental setup is perfect. My favorite bass line ever, perfectly timed drumming, and guitar playing that is beautiful and quiet but becomes loud and distorted at just the right moments. The ending one minute-or-so jam session is one of my favorite moments in music ever.
In short, I would call this perfect. Songs like "My Name Is Jonas", "Buddy Holly", "Say It Ain't So" and "Only In Dreams" are some of the best alterantive rocks ever made. On this album Rivers writes, plays and sings from the heart, they have a great bassist in Matt Sharp, and Jason Cropper didn't forget how to play drums yet. This album is alternative rock at its finest, and I don't think anyone could call themselves a music fan without this album in their collection.