by Brandon Carson
It’s hard to believe that Weezer has now made 13 albums and It’s crazy to think of how far they have come. Blue Album took the world by storm with excellent singles like “Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Undone.” Their second record, Pinkerton, was initially hated by critics, but later praised for its raw sound and incredible depth. After those two, however, Weezer has never crafted another stand-out record. Each album after, from Green to Hurley, has been inconsistent with a couple of strong singles to keep the band afloat. Each record offers a good listen but still suffers from poor songwriting and frontman Rivers Cuomo trying desperately to add every trending sound into each album. This trend temporarily stopped when White Album was released. On this record, the band went back to their roots with fun, catchy songs that felt just as delightfully awkward and nerdy as Blue and Pinkerton. The record after, Pacific Daydream, fell flat on its face in the most disappointing way. It added to Weezer’s ever-growing inconsistent discography. Their newest album, Weezer (The Black Album) remains pop-friendly with catchy tunes and predictable song structures. While some songs may be bland and lifeless, a majority of the record remains fun and memorable.
An exploration of new sounds
Where Pacific Daydream stumbles, The Black Album thrives. Daydream suffered from bland pop songs with nowhere to go because of the boundaries their song structure set. Meanwhile, with Black, most songs have their own sound that make them stand out. “Can’t Knock the Hustle” bounces with a groovy beat that is unlike any Weezer song before which adds a great creative shift for the band. “Zombie Bastards” is the first song on Black that feels like a hit single on the radio. The chorus is catchy, the chords are predictable, and it even has a sample of people screaming “Yeah!” But the atmosphere is fun and the lyrics are creative with just the right amount of Cuomo’s wit to keep it interesting. “Byzantine” is the stand-out song for sound exploration. The song gives off a summer samba vibe with “oohs” and slow arpeggiating guitar licks. It feels carefree, like a sunny day on the beach.
A vast soundscape is to be expected after hearing “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” which makes the flow of the album entertaining because the listener is expecting different sounds for each song right off the bat. “Too Many Thoughts in My Head” also has a sound new to Weezer. Fast acoustic guitar chords jam with a fun reverbed guitar line as Cuomo sings one of his most relatable lyrics, “overwhelmed by Netflix options.” Unlike the many poorer Weezer albums, Black can juggle quirky with emotional moods quite well. “High As a Kite” is a strong ballad including pianos mixed with power chords. This song is contradicted by “I’m Just Being Honest,” a pop-rock song oozing with humorous lyrics from Cuomo discussing honesty for criticism, something very fitting for listeners such as myself. One song on Black that doesn’t have any adventurous sound is “Living in L.A.” The track is bland, forgettable. and predictable. It feels as if it could fit perfectly on Pacific Daydream, especially with lifeless lyrics such as, “This girl I like/I’m talking ‘bout this girl I like.” “California Snow” is another song that lacks any Weezer personality. It is catchy; however, the chorus is so bland that it sounds like anyone could have written it.
Even with many highs, there are still lows
The biggest fault with Black comes from its predictability. With each song, the listener already knows how it is going to go. Each song may have its own unique sound (excluding “Living in L.A.”), but the structures of these songs are all the same: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. While many of the other Weezer songs and songs by other groups have this structure, “Living In L.A.” and “California Snow” aren’t strong enough lyrically or instrumentally to make the structure less dominant.
Recommended if you like:
Jimmy Eat World
“High as a Kite”
“Can’t Knock the Hustle”
“The Prince Who Wanted Everything”
Featured Image: Twitter
Weezer (The Black Album)
'Weezer (The Black Album)' shows that Weezer is still a rock force to be reckoned with. There are many ideas here that create a fun atmosphere and feel unique to the Weezer discography, but problems are caused by the overuse of one song structure and a bland soundscape for some songs, while the rest are original. Overall, this is another inconsistent record in the Weezer discography.
Brandon Carson is a Journalism Major. He reviews music for Byte and also makes his own music on the side.