Review Summary: Equal parts incoherent, confusing, unconscionably bad, and musically brilliant.
Weezer has had a scatterbrained career to say the least. Their albums range from ‘90s rock staples like The Blue Album
, to collections of unassuming pop anthems in The Green Album
and Make Believe
, to the occasional dip into the experimental such as Maladroit
and especially The Red Album
. This is the point in their career where ringleader Rivers Cuomo wanted the band to be less of a passion project and more a collaborative effort involving every member, and you can tell. The Red Album
has some of their most bizarre tracks and it’s by far their least cohesive record as a whole in regards to both musicality and overall quality. From track to track you may forget you’re listening to the same band. Right off the bat there’s the straightforward rock-driven ‘Troublemaker’ leading into the genre transcending opus ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’, cheeky single ‘Pork and Beans’, and then the tender appropriately-titled ‘Heart Songs’. This diversity keeps things interesting for sure, adding momentum with each turn and demanding your attention to listen for the occasional gem, but it’s the deluxe edition that gives the album a semblance of completion and closure.
The Red Album
is somewhat of a microcosm of Weezer’s career. It’s a musical mess; very high highs, offensively low lows, and few lingering in between. The aforementioned trifecta of ‘The Greatest Man…’, ‘Pork and Beans’, and ‘Heart Songs’ make up the album’s musical peak. After that is when things get hairy. There’s the 99 cent Red Hot Chili Peppers
knock-off ‘Everybody Get Dangerous’ and then a saccharine exercise in tedium called ‘Dreamin’’ containing a painfully awkward heavy outro that’s as forced as it is unnecessary. The other band members take their shots at songwriting on the next three tracks, none being particularly offensive but none particularly memorable either. But the album closes on a high note, ‘The Angel and the One’, proving that a little subtlety and simplicity can go a long way. The deluxe edition bonus tracks are more focused than the album itself; a handful of cover songs and a few inspired original compositions that were bafflingly left off the initial release. ‘Pig’ in particular is one of the most gorgeous songs Weezer has put out in this era. Clocking in at a mere four minutes, ‘Pig’ starts as an acoustic slow-burn that builds and builds into an epic, beautifully layered melodic orgasm, coalescing distorted guitars, piano, bells, and Cuomo’s soaring falsetto acting as the aural sprinkles to the track’s well-frosted cake.
Again, it’s difficult to review The Red Album
as a unit because it’s less of an album than it is a collection of ideas. Some solid, some horrendous, and some ranking among the best in the band’s illustrious catalog. The deluxe edition adds much needed depth to the LP, but the fact is The Red Album
is an incoherent clusterfuck of a release. There’s no way around it. Thankfully when taking the bonus tracks into consideration, the good ideas here far outweigh the bad.