Review Summary: A surreal but loveable mess
The Red Album is weird. Like, not just regular Weezer quirky. I mean it's flat out odd. Even the cover of the album is strange which features a moustache clad cowboy hat wearing Rivers and the rest of band looking uncomfortable. If anything it's a caution of what's about to unfold. Red is another example of the band trying something new. Pinkerton had rougher sounds, Maladroit had metal guitar and even funk riffs and Make Believe got a bit electronic in places. Red dives headfirst into experimenting, with tracks exploring prog rock, folk and even rap rock of all things. Do these all work well" That's have a look see:
The opening track 'Troublemaker' is a bit hit and miss. While admittedly catchy, it's a painfully simple track with the same repetitive drum beat and guitar riff being looped through out the song. Rivers' lyrics range from goofy ('they only sicken me, don't let me play football') to just nuts ('Marry a beyotch, having seven keyods'). It's a painfully simple track but I guarantee it'll stay in your head. The second track, 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on A Shaker Hymn)' is the sprawling 6 minute freak out, which spans several genres including southern hip hop, grunge, choir, country and power ballad. Rivers jumps from a falsetto to a growling punk voice in the span of seconds while yelling about how he's the ***. It's really quite powerful even if it's incredibly dumb and silly. The hit single 'Pork and Beans' is a catchy heavy romp set with an acoustic riff intersperse with piano and blaring guitar. Again it isn't exactly deep but it's a fun foot tapping track which gets its job done. Rivers gets sentimental on 'Heart Songs', an aggressively cheesy but lush guitar ballad which gets a bit too much hate from fans, and things get bizarre on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers like 'Everybody Get Dangerous' which features some of Rivers' worst lyrics, mainly about cow tipping and road kill, but a fierce instrumental which helps lead the track, along with an oddly ethereal bridge. 'Dreamin'' is a similar song to The Greatest Man, bar the varied genre changes focusing more on a power pop track which transitions into a soft dreamy middle section with co lead vocals handled by Brian Bell.
The next three tracks are all written and performed by the other members of the band. They're... interesting. Brian's poppy 'Thought I Knew' juggles cheesy sci-fi like sound effects and a pretty crummy lead vocal delivery. Scott Shriner's 'Cold Dark World' has some creepy, cringe worthy lyrics penned by Rivers, but a thick moody bassline and overall dark instrumentation that makes the track worth itself. Pat Wilson's 'Automatic' is a mixed bag with a heavy guitar riff and drum beat (played by Rivers no less) but an odd vocal delivery (even though he's a good singer). The Grand finale is 'The Angel and The One' a near 7 minute prog rock ballad detailing someone having to leave a lover to search for a higher calling. It's cliche, it's odd, but it's god damn beautiful. Rivers delivers a blazing powerful vocal and the band's playing is absolutely top notch. The extended synth ending which fades into a few moments of silence makes an incredibly effective ending to the record. It's one of the group's most mature and wonderful tracks and a lovely highlight.
The four bonus tracks on the album are nothing short of brilliant. The jerky but passionate 'Miss Sweeney' again presents one of Rivers' best performances and a genuinely touching chorus. 'Pig' is an upbeat Folk track with some unique but amazingly heart wrenching lyrics about... well a pig. 'The Spider' is a sparse gloomy guitar piece which accumulates in a world shattering note from Rivers and 'King' is a lonely and aggressive song led by Scott Shriner. They're all magical and powerful tracks and it baffles me they were left off the original LP. Lyrically, Red is rather weak. Troublemaker is absurd, Heart Songs is ridiculously sappy, Everybody Get Dangerous is flat out insane and Cold Dark World is uncomfortably earnest. But, the bonus tracks offer some of Rivers' most unique lyrical offerings (The Spider being a real highlight) and The Angel and The One is one of his greatest achievements, lyric wise and musically.
All in all, Red is incredibly mixed. On one hand it contains some of the band's best material, on the Other some of the most mediocre. However, the bonus tracks guide this album to excellence, along with a cover of the Band's 'The Weight' a fun take on the original classic which features Scott and Rivers on lead vocals. An odd and bizarre but oddly captivating and powerful album which blends a mess of genres (hit and miss mind you) to create an incredibly odd but captivating album with some damn fine songs.
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on A Shaker Hymn)
Pork and Beans
The Angel and The One