Weezer will be releasing their ninth album on the 30th September (2014). The new record, called ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ (aka #EWBAITE), will be the first since 2010’s Hurley. Their career has certainly had its good and bad aspects, over the years, with most long term fans lamenting the steady decline in their quality of output. One disgruntled group of fans even went to the lengths of starting a campaign to raise 10 million dollars, so that they could pay Weezer to break up, to stop them from releasing any more bad records.
On that issue of declining output, I recently came to the uncomfortable realisation that the number of good Weezer albums was now equalled by the number of bad ones. I further realised that if the next album tuned out to be a turkey, then the number of bad albums would actually outweigh the number of good ones by five to four, throwing their career into total disarray. It left me wondering if it would have been best if the band had just called it quits years ago, to prevent them from continuing to piss all over their musical legacy.
On the other hand, #EWBAITE could still turn out to be the (long-overdue) return to form that many of their most stoic, long term, fans have continued to hope for. In fact, there may well be some reason to be hopeful of a light at the end of the tunnel. A series of teasers, posted on Weezer’s Youtube channel over the past few weeks suggest that the new album could be something pretty decent (or maybe even something quite special). The presence of Ric Ocasek as producer also adds some weight to this theory, as he was the producer on both The Blue Album and The Green Album. With that said, it is still too early to say, since a whole album can never be accurately judged from just a few snippets.
While we wait with bated breath, it seemed appropriate to do a Weezer retrospective, covering each album in chronological order. So, here we go:
The Blue Album – 1994
For many fans and critics, this classic album is still viewed as their finest work to date. The combination of loud guitars, pop-hooks and strong melodies, made geek rock cool and influenced the direction of guitar music for years afterwards. The Blue Album will always be remembered for its original style, in being able to combine punk and grunge influences on the one hand, with surf pop aesthetics and Beach Boys style vocal harmonies on the other.
Tracks like ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Undone - The Sweater Song’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So’ still carry as much weight today as they did twenty years ago. The production of the album also sounds fantastic, managing to carry a lo-fi quality, while still achieving a lush sound, with incredible attention to detail.
Once you dig beneath the singles, you will find an album where there are no weak tracks and where each song is a classic in its own right. ‘My Name Is Jonas’, ‘Only In Dreams’ and ‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’ are particularly potent examples.
Listen on Spotify
Music Junkie Rating: 9/10
Pinkerton – 1996
Pinkerton was to The Blue Album, what In Utero was to Nevermind. The approachable, fuzzier noise of The Blue album was replaced by a darker, more caustic sound. Lyrically, the mildly pessimistic geek-rock had now morphed into a combination of sexual despair and personal crisis. It’s clear that these brilliantly fucked-up little masterpieces of songs were the product of a highly troubled mind, although often the best music is.
Opening track, ‘Tired Of Sex’, is abrasive right from the moment it starts and that is before the heavy guitar riff kicks in. With that said, Pinkerton is not strictly a ‘heavy’ album in the way it is often portrayed. As the album progresses, a noticeable fragility enters many of the songs, with the excellent ‘Across The Sea’, being a prime example of Rivers Cuomo’s tortured emotional core. Also, the closer ‘Butterly’ provides one of the quietest and most reflective moments of their career. ‘The Good Life’ and ‘El Scorcho’ are probably the two best known tracks of the album, both showing that Weezer didn’t completely abandon their knack for injecting pop hooks into their sound. Meanwhile, ‘Pink Triangle’ is an illustration of how there can still be dark humour in moments of despair.
At the time of its release, Pinkerton was panned by many critics and poorly received by fans. However, as time has passed, Pinkerton has rightly become viewed as a masterpiece. It is certainly our number one.
Listen on Spotify
Music Junkie Rating: 10/10
The Green Album - 2001
After a hiatus, when the future of Weezer was uncertain, the band finally returned with their third album. The Green Album was an obvious attempt to return to the style of The Blue Album. Aside from the cover-art, they also had producer Ric Ocasek back on board. Indeed, the album was a success of sorts, in achieving this aim. The first two tracks, ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Photograph’, both contained the mixture of the guitar-pop hooks and geek-rock charm that you would expect. Most of the other songs on the album continued in this manner, although ‘Hash Pipe’ deviated from the formula with its metal influenced riffs, while’ Island In The Sun’ went for a more mellow pop vibe.
This album was not without its flaws though. Considering the ten tracks amount to less than half an hour in length, the songs do quickly start to feel quite samey. There is less of the originality and quirkiness of their earlier work here too, both musically, but also lyrically – it all feels a bit like ‘Weezer-lite’ at times. There is also the annoying fact that the guitar solo in each song is just the vocal melody from the verse played on a guitar. Despite these flaws, this is still a decent album, with a particularly strong set of four songs to start the album off.
Listen on Spotify
Music Junkie Rating: 6.5/10
Maladroit - 2002
Maladroit is something of an overlooked album in Weezer’s back catalogue, often being crassly portrayed as an extension of The Green Album. If you listen to it though, you will quickly realise that this is not the case at all, as Maladroit ditches the easily digestible format of The Green Album in favour of big metal-drenched riffs, eighties influenced guitar solos and jarring rhythms and hooks. Maladroit is a darker album than its predecessor. At its time, it was also notable for being the most slickly produced Weezer album to date.
Opener ‘American Gigolo’ immediately sets the scene, with thundering drums and a colossal riff. ‘Take Control’ and ‘Fall Together’ are almost certainly the heaviest sounding tracks Weezer have created. Even on the poppier songs, such as ‘Dope Nose’ and ‘Keep Fishin’, the band can’t resist the temptation for some moments of satisfying guitar noise.
The only real downside of the album is that it races through its 13 songs at such speed. It would certainly have been good to have spent more time on the slower, brooding ‘Death and Destruction’ or the sun-kissed funk rock of ‘Burndt Jamb’. With that said, there is barely a wasted moment on Maladroit and it contains some of the best material of their career, particularly the fifties influenced album closer ‘December’. Despite a hard-core cult following, Maladroit is a massively underrated and underappreciated album. It rightfully deserves better recognition amongst Weezer’s back catalogue, as the third best Weezer album to date, after ‘The Blue Album’ and ‘Pinkerton’.
Listen on Spotify
Music Junkie Rating: 8/10
To be continued… (Click here for part two)
-By Music Junkie UK