It’s not ‘Pinkerton’, it’s not ‘Blue’, but on their tenth album, Weezer finally sound like a band back on their very best form.
Released: 1st April 2016
“It’s gonna be alright if you’re on a sinking ship, the California kids will throw you a lifeline.”
So goes the refrain of ‘California Kids’, the opener of Weezer’s fourth self-titled, colour coded record. That’s your review, right there. With the ‘White’ album, Weezer have saved themselves.
The signs were there for a while. ‘Hurley’, a somewhat underrated record (no, really – Ed), sparked at points. ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ took it a step further; a confession that taking the band back to their roots might be the smart move. Here, though, Rivers Cuomo and his band of merry men have nailed it. This is redemption.
No, this isn’t ‘Pinkerton’ or ‘Blue’. But then, it never could be. In the 20 years after Weezer delivered one of the great album one-twos, things have changed – not least the protagonists themselves. Since returning from their between albums break with the ‘Green’ album, they’ve been a band under fire – but they’ve learned from that. Every Weezer album – even ‘Raditude’ – had at least one song that showed the magic was still there. Now, they’ve packaged it all up and brought it home to make – arguably – the album ‘Green’ should have been.
Hooking up with Jake Sinclair, the man who helped Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco take over the airwaves, they’ve finally found the formula that matches classic, critically acclaimed Weezer with their postmillennial, mainstream chasing successors. Sinclair, it should be noted, used to front his own Weezer tribute band. It’s really no surprise he had the answers.
The formula is all there. Dorky lyrics, the direct line to California’s other great harmonisers The Beach Boys, an understanding that a little bit of musical gravel can go a long way. But they’ve not simply tried to return to 1996. It’s 2016, and they know it.
So when ‘LA Girlz’, the White album’s standout track, comes woozing out of the traps, swooning with grit and lazy melody, it sounds like the band who released ‘Buddy Holly’, rather than a band who wishes they did. More polished, more realised – it’s not in any way better, but it complements what came before. ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’, likewise, chugs to a soaring chorus that would make any ‘Pinkerton’ convert smile a little.
But elsewhere, Weezer are still trying new things. ‘Thank God for Girls’ is every bit as deep-fried as anything from ‘Red’; ‘Wind in Our Sail’ is a truly brilliant piano led pop song – this isn’t a band reverting to type, but finding their stride once more.
Coming full circle, there’s a scene in the video for ‘California Kids’ where Rivers Cuomo digs himself out of the sand, before disappearing. His trademark glasses fall to the floor, and the recently exhumed Rivers puts them on. As metaphors for Weezer’s current standing go, it’s a good one. They’ve finally found themselves, they’ve retaken their place, and now they’re ready to go once more.
After all, the ‘Black’ album. What’s the worst that could happen? Stephen Ackroyd