Monday, October 6, 2014

Gut Feeling: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End
Republic, 2014
Despite almost fifteen years of churning out some of the worst, pop chair-poised alt-rock, I still can’t completely write off Weezer. Because, like many men and women of my generation, our junior high and high school years were dominated by the band’s first two albums. This is just a fact. I wonder what the percentage is. Like the boomers and the Kennedy Assassination, I remember where I was the first time I heard those opening notes of “My Name is Jonas.” 9th Grade, I was 15 years old and tasked with an insanely intensive biology project that determined my final grade. I had to write up descriptions of five flora and five fauna from the earth’s seven biomes. 70 paragraph-long descriptions of arctic foxes, desert brush, and parasites. It took a whole fucking weekend. Like 6 hours on Friday, 12 hours on Saturday, another 8 hours on Sunday. I still have it at my parents’ house because goddamnit, that’s a weekend of my youth I will never get back. But I don’t WANT it back, because I forged my love of power pop in those desperate hours as I listened to the Blue Album and Pinkerton on repeat, one after the other, for 25 solid hours. This is where I come from. This is why I’m a sucker for a big hook and even bigger guitars, soaring like a majestic eagle over a plain of crashing cymbals and snares and riffs and meaty bass lines. I enjoyed the Green Album, and I have a vivid memory of running a red light on the way to Hastings to buy Maladroit the day it came out, and I can still feel the ache of the letdown. After that I focused my efforts on punk rock and Weezer was put on the shelf, only to be taken down for road trip sing-a-longs and general nostalgia. Put on “Say it Ain’t So” in a room of 28 year olds and I guarantee we’re all belting that shit out in thirty seconds. Still, Weezer is something from our past, and it’s been a general rule of thumb to make believe Make Believe never existed. To ignore the silly album covers of Raditude and Hurley and the even sillier songs collected within. I could talk about this shit all day. The transition of Rivers Cuomo from an incisive songwriter whose pain was felt and understood by millions of people to a guy who would rather cut out his vocal chords than sing a single honest word ever again. The songwriting from the Green Album on is the hollowest shit you will ever hear.

Everything Will Be Alright in the End is Weezer’s least embarrassing album since the Green Album. Cuomo’s songwriting is still pretty dumb but the hooks almost always feel like vintage Weezer and some terrific collaboration with the likes of Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and Titus Andronicus’ Patrick Stickles are beautiful little moments. It shifts Cuomo’s empty calorie lyrics into something more substantive. He feels like a songwriter in transition, because even on his own on a track like “Da Vinci,” you can feel some real emotion but it’s sapped by the whistling-accented lightness of the verse. But the chorus on that track barrels over you like “Why Bother?” The Best Coast collaboration “Go Away” feels like a Green Album cut with the added twist of being a duet. It’s a piece of fluff, but it’s goddamn catchy. “Foolish Father” on the other hand, is totally disarming. Simple, but incredibly affective and a positive sign for Weezer’s potential to return to a world where relatable songwriting is prioritized. The hooks are there, and they’re glorious, but until Cuomo can eradicate lines like “Don’t wanna be mass consumed/ I’m not a happy meal,” which is both dishonest and dumb, there is still a lot of work to be done. Everything Will Be Alright in the End is a positive step, and while it doesn’t totally restore my faith in Weezer, it brings me way more satisfaction than I ever thought I’d get from a Weezer record and I feel like I’m fifteen, rocking out with my headphone on, writing about the animals of the taiga. Horns raised, head rocking, engraving the stylized Weezer W on the front of my Five Star notebook. Let's hope this album's title is a self-fulfilling prophecy for this band.

"Foolish Father"

"Ain't Got Nobody"

No comments:

Post a Comment