Weezer: ‘Van Weezer’ Album Critique

Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo referred to his 1996 album Pinkerton as “a sick album, sick in…

Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo referred to his 1996 album Pinkerton as “a sick album, sick in a diseased kind of way” in a 2001 job interview with Rolling Stone, and understandably so. The tunes have been deeply own, ranging from Cuomo’s sexual fantasies to his experiences with imposter syndrome as a Harvard student. It was ugly, rife with detail, and quickly became a beloved album heralded for its authenticity. In spite of this, Weezer has figured out from the trauma that arrives with baring that significantly of oneself on an album, and their subsequent releases have been hit or overlook.

In the approximately a few many years due to the fact then, Weezer has cemented them selves as one particular of the couple rock bands with some steam left in them, appealing to quite a few generations with their infectious hooks and amazing melodies. They analyzed the electrical power-pop book, and the legacy remaining driving by their beloved producer Ric Ocasek of The Vehicles, to create their framework. Their successful streak started out with 2014’s Every thing Will Be Alright In The End and ended with 2017’s Pacific Daydream, eventually redeeming by themselves with their orchestral Alright Human. Then, they reminded everybody about their metallic album Van Weezer.

“Metal” need to be employed flippantly, and press components ping-pong back again and forth among “hard rock” and “metal” as a driving influence at the rear of this very long-awaited record. This is not to be unanticipated, as a extensive-haired Cuomo was formerly in a progressive metal band referred to as Avant Garde, and Weezer executed less than the identify Goat Punishment and did a range of reside Nirvana covers. So why is it so hard for them to get the heaviness suitable?

At its most effective, Van Weezer is a Weezer album, for absence of a superior phrase. The soaring guitar riffs are coated in nostalgia, reminiscent of licks existing on The Green Album and Maladroit, the latter of which received the most comparisons to Van Weezer. Each song sounds straight out of a stadium. It feels like 2nd mother nature to clap and stomp. Even the several Easter eggs set into the album to attractiveness to typical rock followers, these kinds of as the Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” briefly being referenced in the intro to “The Stop of the Game,” or the interpolation of Ozzy Osbourne’s iconic “Crazy Train” on “Blue Desire,” are very well completed, but that feels like the extent of this album’s ambitions, supplying the bare minimum in mainstream rock references without having much else to exhibit for it.

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Van Weezer plays it safe and sound. It refuses to linger on nearly anything exterior of their attempted-and-genuine electricity-pop method for more time than a couple seconds, as opposed to their willingness to shred and trace on their punk and grunge roots with past music such as “Hash Pipe” on Eco-friendly and “We Are All On Drugs” on Make Believe. There are glimpses of that magic on tracks these as “Hero,” with a chorus that is begging to be screamed in the post-pandemic bliss when displays return, and “Sheila Can Do It” has hooks and cheesy solos and keys that truly feel correctly on-brand name for Weezer in the greatest way. Which is what can make this album so aggravating, since Weezer has plainly laid out the framework for what they are able of reaching, but will not increase on it. Even the Maladroit comparison feels unwarranted because they realized that sensitive balance of darker seems with their evolving pop leanings.

The lyrics are the most obvious challenge of the album, and a single just can’t enable but surprise why Cuomo would be deeply ashamed of singing, “It’s a crying shame I’m all on your own / Not with you, nor her, nor any one / Won’t you knock me on my head? / Crack it open up, enable me outta here” on “Why Bother?” off Pinkerton, but has no issue singing, “Pump it up into me / Please, daddy / You should, daddy” on “1 Extra Strike.” It’s not like Cuomo has difficulties with songwriting, possibly, as Alright Human observed some of his most simplistic songwriting that however carried such a warmth and depth that is found at least a handful of situations on each and every of their albums.

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Van Weezer picks and chooses what pieces of difficult rock and metal they want to publish a appreciate letter to, opting to publish tracks devoid of a great deal lyrical information. “Blue Dream” begins with “The fishes are my close friends / beneath the sea / swimming all about / they want to be with me,” mainly because I guess Cuomo’s remedy to cope with rejection is to hold out at an aquarium, which isn’t lousy until finally you recall he’s a 50-yr-outdated gentleman with a spouse and children. It is not to say lyrics simply cannot be about fictional companions or fictional worlds, but most tunes on the album offer with wanting to get laid, dreaming of remaining a rockstar, and anonymous girls that an omnipresent Cuomo watches as they shave their legs. Except Van Weezer was marketed as a thought album revolving all over a down-on-his-luck rockstar fulfilling his rockstar fantasies as a way to escape the pains of everyday lifetime, the album feels lazy and uninspired. Even then, that idea offers Weezer as well a great deal credit history.

The album, as a normal Weezer album, is to be envisioned. As soon as the expectation is established up for an album motivated by the likes of Black Sabbath, Van Halen and KISS, it’s to be anticipated that it feels like a misstep. If the band offered Van Weezer as a tongue-in-cheek glance at ‘80s metal stereotypes or as a different 1 of their albums in their assembly line of new music that just so occurs to be partly inspired by some of their most loved bands, this could possibly be different. It is an album that would make Tenacious D roll their eyes and make metallic supporters scratch their heads. Weezer, dedicate to the bit. You have it in you.


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Jade Gomez is Paste’s assistant music editor, pet mom, Southern rap aficionado and compound sentence enthusiast. She has no impulse handle and will acquire vinyl that she’s way too frightened to engage in or stickers she will in no way adhere.