Since the release of their 1996 experimental album Pinkerton, Weezer’s career has been defined by its inconsistency.
Although the band has had its shining moments in the past 20 years, including the underappreciated Maladroit and their most recent LP Everything Will Be Alright in the End, most fans have been disappointed with the power pop group’s attempts to create anthemic hits. However, with their newest album Weezer, also known as The White Album, the group appears to have hit their stride once more, honing in on a successfully brighter sound.
It’s appropriate that Weezer selected white — a color traditionally associated with renewal — for this album’s theme. Just two years after Rivers Cuomo, the band’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, declared that the group didn’t care about the mainstream, he’s dumped long-time producer and former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek in favor of Jake Sinclair, a producer and musician known for his work with big names such as Taylor Swift, 5 Seconds of Summer and Fall Out Boy.
Sinclair’s influence results in heavy over-dubbed vocals and stiff percussion, two components to a poorly constructed rock album. But Cuomo plays into this sound with quirky songwriting and guitar melodies that make the entire record come together with an oddly enjoyable sound.
The Beach Boys’ influence on this album is obvious on songs such as “King of The World,” Cuomo’s lover letter to his wife, filled with references to their relationship and even her fear of airplanes when Cuomo suggests they take a Greyhound bus to the Galapagos.
Other songs follow these same patterns, bringing in fictional characters to weave peculiar stories and catchy tunes. “L.A. Girlz” is easily Weezer’s best single since 2001’s “Island in the Sun,” incorporating geographical references to Santa Monica beaches and ripped lines from the nonsense poem “Jabberwocky.” These shout-outs to seemingly random things only help to build on the jubilant sound of this album.
Even the occasionally serious moments soar, especially “Do You Wanna Get High?,” which deals with Cuomo’s addiction to prescription drugs in the early 2000s. Other songs, such as “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” and “Endless Bummer” bring back the original Weezer sound — pop-oriented hits with serious subject matters, adding another dimension to the album.
Not every moment works out in Weezer’s favor, though, with several songs blending in because of weak hooks. The album’s lead track “California Kids” puts Cuomo’s guitar riff too far back in the song’s mixing, creating an overall bland pop sound, and “Jacked Up” follows a formula that’s been tired out by the time it comes around as the album’s penultimate track.
With their most recent edition to their color-themed eponymous releases, Weezer has found a sound they can move forward with for years to come, improving upon the bittersweet sound of Everything Will Be Alright in the End with melodic guitars and an uplifting attitude to create a fun and lasting listen.
Genre: Power pop/rock