Weezer has been making music for a long, long, long time–so long that I haven’t known a world without a Weezer album. Their self-titled debut was released three days before I was born and they’ve been pedaling out their audacious take on rock nonstop ever since. But within that massive discography, it’s always been the string of self-titled releases that have garnered the most skewing opinions about the band. The Red Album, despite the success of the amusingly defiant single “Pork and Beans,” is a good example and when you’ve made music for as long as Weezer have (read: “a long time”) styles are bound to fluctuate and people are determined to have their predispositions ruffled.
After Hurley, there was a general plea for the band to head back to their roots, while some began to fidget in their seats as doubts of their attempts to gracefully age seemingly staled. Fears were doused with last year’s Everything Will Be Alright, which was a direct comment on Weezer’s existential crisis, as well as a blissful assertion of their steadfast commitment to wit and honesty as rock gods. And of course people were wrong to despair, because if it’s their one indisputable truth it’s that Weezer does not age–they are adamantly, almost unconsciously, affixed to their eternal youth. At 45-years-old front man Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates still embody those nerdy quirks that made their act so universally sympathetic to everyone that watched them; except, twenty-one years later, we’ve realized it never was an act.
With their tenth studio album and fourth self-titled release, one soon to be ostensibly referred to as The White Album, Weezer has returned to the cradle of their inspiration that is Southern California’s coastal city scapes to cement the inception of their innate boyish charm. Gushing with sun-bleached nostalgia and the band’s cheeky post-punk sentimentality, the album is filled with deep cutting, stream-of-conscious documentation by Cuomo of Los Angeles’ West side. The album’s intro “California Kids” is a head-rushing ode to the band’s hay-day. For a fellow kid of said state, its bittersweet tonic of electric guitar rips drill in you a fondness for the faces you grew up with–ones that would become as synonymous to your hometown as the sunshine that filled it year round. On “Thank God For Girls,” Cuomo sets fire to gender stereotypes with his breakneck lyricisms, unloading his heavy episodic images against an off-kilter array of riffs and driving percussiveness.
In the 70’s sunshiny ditty that is “(Girl We Got) a Good Thing,” Cuomo dances in the streets with his gal, playing the tambourine like “a couple Hare Krishnas” and handing published books of their lovebird philosophy to tourists. It’s the kind of obnoxious, honeymoon love that you’re highly susceptible to in the sunshine state–one that is contrasted furiously by the brooding moodiness of “Do You Want To Get High,” a song that bloodily scratches out (with clamoring guitar solos and anxiously built drum rumbles) all the misplaced sexiness and fun in drug addiction. But like the tide the lows ebb alongside the highs, and the album rushes towards its first with “King of the World.” A picturesque rock song that combines Cuomo’s dually personal/universal imagism and a healthy plate of audacious hammer-ons, “King of the World” thunders resoundingly with the insistence of Weezer’s ability to still pen melt-your-face anthems. “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” once again flip-flops stereotypes as Cuomo reminisces (between virulent guitar hooks) as the insecure, awkward “boy in the bubble,” saved by two girls whom he idolizes.
Like a hazy sunset viewed from Santa Monica’s crowded beaches, the water afire with glistening reflections from the radiant horizon, Weezer winds itself down with one final uproar in “L.A. Girlz.” Once more capturing the fabled idealism of beachfront romances, as Cuomo outlines plans for his summer lover to meet him at Tower 28, wall-of-sound guitars crash and burn in a rambunctious finale of pure rock bravado. Then, seemingly out of left-field, comes the delightfully piano-pushed, pop medley of “Jacked Up,” one that sees Cuomo aim for the clouds with high-pitched shrills. The album ends abruptly and rather quietly with “Endless Bummer,” and through the transmission of soft strums Cuomo retraces his steps (counting them because he’s OCD) of a failing love, and seeing the dreariness in every moment, even Kumbaya by the campfire sends him into a sad but brief rage of rousing guitar riffs.
Landing somewhere between Pinkerton and the Beach Boys, Weezer has revisited in well-worn longing the sunshine of their youth–a youth that, as evident across their colorful discography, never really left them. Cuomo and company have never taken themselves too seriously, but they can craft deceptively catchy rock hits (the kind you find yourself beating out in your car weeks, and sometimes years, later), maintaining an unparalleled authenticity in their songwriting with their peculiar analogies and lyrics.Ten albums in, Weezer–a band born out of the unapologetic punk scene and could therefore care less about criticism–clearly isn’t battling any worries about a fading legacy or struggles of relevancy. Instead, for what will soon be known as The White Album, the boys in Weezer have conjured up an accurately unpolished portrayal of their home-state–Ventura on the 101, road-trips to Mexico, diets of Chinese and Mexican, girls like mermaids–in which the scenery and melodies are as fittingly Californian as the stories themselves.
You can also catch Weezer live on their upcoming North American Tour with Panic! At The Disco. For tour dates and tickets click here.
Words: Steven Ward