Review Summary: End this Bummer.
The thought of Rivers Cuomo purposefully titling an electronic-pop record so close alphabetically to his genre-creating behemoth Pinkerton
just to irritate fans entered my mind directly after my first listen to Pacific Daydream
, one of Weezer’s most perplexing releases, even by their standards. No, I do not actually think he did this, but the fact that it crossed my mind says quite a bit about Weezer’s checkered past. Since my media player lists an artist’s albums in alphabetical order rather than chronological order, when this record’s clean, sterile album closer “Any Friend of Diane’s” ends, I immediately hear the snarling, familiar feedback of “Tired of Sex.” Set side-to-side with Pacific Daydream’s
closer, the opener to Pinkerton
sounds even more ugly, noisy, flawed, endearing, beautiful, perfect than it did before. I think about how on paper, Pinkerton
shouldn’t work. At all. Really, it should be a disaster. The amazing thing is, however, that Pinkerton
works in it’s own unique way. In contrast, Pacific Daydream
should work on paper, but it doesn’t in the same way an album by any aging 90s alternative rock band trying to stay relevant doesn’t work.
I want to say that I’m personally hurt, that I’m appalled Rivers would make such a dreadful effort after all the credibility he’s earned back over the past couple years, but the fact is that I’m not. This is not my first rodeo. I, like many a Weezer fan, spent several years watching the band release a promising lead single like “Pork and Beans” or “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” deluding myself into believing that this would be the big comeback album I’ve been waiting for, and then ultimately letting Weezer trample all over me with baffling song topics and corny chord progressions.
Push the stone up the hill, let it roll back down.
With each release, I would wonder how many more times they could do this before the fans would exclaim “enough!” in unison, throwing their vinyl reissue of The Blue Album
to the floor in a bout of frustration. A part of me believes that if this record were the follow-up to Raditude
, if Weezer’s successful late-career upswing never happened, this could have easily been the end for Weezer.
So despite Weezer's late career return-to-form, we arrive at this record, which spends most of its 35-minute runtime on autopilot. Unfortunately, most of these tracks don’t seem to strive for much of anything. For example, when it comes to songs like “Beach Boys,” it’s hard to even make heads or tails of it. What is the song trying to accomplish? Is it trying to capture the feel-good attitude of the Beach Boys’ early work like Weezer did successfully on The White Album’s
“(Girl We Got A) Good Thing,” or is it reflectively paying tribute to the band, like “Eulogy for a Rock Band” from Everything Will Be Alright In The End
? The song makes unenthusiastic jabs at both, but doesn’t have enough drive to achieve either. The only thing I can tell it’s attempting to do is sound as pleasant as it can, but there’s still a distinct feeling of insincerity to it. Rivers crooning about how he has heard of the Beach Boys before is almost laughable. He seems to be emulating a much younger artist, disregarding the fact that anyone who has heard a single Weezer song could assume that Rivers has, in fact, heard of the Beach Boys.
The anomaly here lies in “QB Blitz,” which thrives off how seriously it refuses to take itself. Silly lyrics about having no one to do algebra with are doled out in a nursery rhyme-like melody, and when the reverb-blasted arpeggios start scaling their way up the chorus, it’s expertly-crafted stupidity. However, it’s immediately after this track that Weezer delves into some of their worst material of their career. This stretch from “Sweet Mary” to the aforementioned closer “Any Friend of Diane’s,” mind you, isn’t the most offensive work from Rivers & Company. In all fairness, it’s not even close. This stretch just feels so dull and lifeless, like an algorithm autowriting alt-pop songs aimed to do no more than someday be played inside a coffee shop. Even on (much) lesser-quality albums like The Red Album
, you can at least tell that Weezer is being adventurously bad, having as much fun as they can along the way. Going back to even their landmark debut, Weezer was never afraid to get downright silly.
It doesn’t sound fun if Weezer’s not having fun.
is a record that isn’t sure what it wants to be. It seems to be a very calculated effort, designed to have nothing so great that it can be called a diamond in the rough (like “The Angel and the One” was for The Red Album
,) nor anything so poor that it’s beyond forgiveness (“Can’t Stop Partying” from Raditude
.) What the album is instead is something snugly coasting down the middle of the road, which turns out to be one of the worst places for a Weezer album to be.