BY CHRISTOPHER HEIM
Fandom: it can be both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation. In the case of Weezer, their relationship with their fanbase has been a strenuous one to say the least.
For those that aren’t familiar, Weezer is an influential pop/rock band fronted by singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo. Through catchy hooks and charmingly geeky lyrics, Weezer became one of the premiere alternative rock bands in the 90s. Their first two efforts, the nostalgic “Blue Album” and the initially under-appreciated dark and brooding “Pinkerton,” are undisputed masterpieces (No Weezer fan will argue with that). However, the release of their third LP, 2001’s “Green Album,” is where the fights start.
“Where’s that loud guitar!?! Why have Rivers’ lyrics become so cheesy and jokey!?! THIS ISN’T LIKE THE BLUE ALBUM OR PINKERTON!?!”
Listen, I love the “Blue Album” like anybody else and “Pinkerton” is easily one of my top 10 favorite albums ever, but do we have to keep unfairly expecting every Weezer album to be like those? Rivers is no longer that angsty 20-something that wrote “Pinkerton;” he’s married now and has kids. Plus, even if I don’t love Weezer’s 2000s efforts as much as their 90s output, Rivers remains a gifted songwriter that can write great pop songs laced with hard rock flair like no other. As for the lyrics, well, when have Rivers’ lyrics ever NOT been cheesy, ham-fisted or dorky (Ex. “Buddy Holly,” “El Scorcho”)? The charm with Rivers’ lyrics derives not only from the humor, but the compelling personal/emotional insights provided. Rarely does it ever feel like Rivers is not being honest about what is on his mind.
Anyway, all ranting aside, Weezer fans of both old and new should find plenty to love about “EWBAE,” Rivers and company’s ninth LP. With their self-referential lead single “Back to the Shack,” Rivers promises the album will be a return to basics for the group. In a way it is, but “EWBAE” is far from a pure retread of the band’s past and is instead a great marriage of the sound of both the old and new Weezer.
This is easily Weezer’s most consistent offering in a long time, combining fuzzy 90s over-driven guitar goodness with the dreamy laid-back nature of the “Green Album.” Rivers once again composes some great hooks along with memorable choruses like on “Da Vinci” with “Even Da Vinci couldn’t paint you / Stephen Hawking can’t explain you / Rosetta Stone could not translate you./ I’m at a loss for words.” Lyrically, the album runs through the themes of the decline of guitar in mainstream music (“Eulogy For a Rock Band”), failed relationships (“Go Away, Cleopatra”), and Rivers’ turbulent relationship with his father (“Ain’t Got Nobody, Foolish Father”).
Did I forget to mention that this album also ROCKS? Weezer churns out some great licks like the pseudo-metallic riff to “I’ve Had It Up To Here” and the entertaining over-the-top solo-after-solo album closer “The Futurescope Trilogy.” However, my favorite two tracks are “The British Are Coming” (This better be in people’s 2015 Fourth of July mixtape) and “Go Away,” which features Rivers singing a duet with Bethany Cosentino from the band Best Coast (I’m a sucker for male-female duets).
I have yet to encounter a critic or seasoned Weezer fan that didn’t like “EWBAE.” If you haven’t check this album out already, buy it now! There will be no regrets, because everything will be alright in the end. Check out the SNC website to see my picks for the “Top 25 Weezer Songs.”
Recommended tracks: “The British Are Coming,” “Go Away,” “Da Vinci,” “Eulogy For a Rock Band”