Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Album Review: Weezer - Weezer (Black)

The new album by Weezer comes mere weeks after their EP of (mostly) 80’s covers. While that experiment was anecdotal at best, this is a more “serious” addition to the band’s canon and I’m happy to report that it’s also one of their best in probably a decade.
Not that they’ve been churning out crap, mind you. But it has sometimes felt like they could have taken a little more time in between their records, especially the last ones.

The album starts off with Can’t Knock The Hustle, a dance-y minor blues with a growling bass, mariachi horns, funky distorted guitars and spooky vocals popping in and out. It’s typically quirky Weezer and a great introduction for the next thirty-eight minutes.

Zombie Bastards mixes chugging guitars, a drone-y piano and subliminal sound effects with a sunny melody. The track sounds a bit like Sublime if they had been any good.

A music box sets the tone for the lounge-y High As A Kite which is almost easy-listening until the distorted guitars appear in the chorus. It’s a perfect song, one that Paul could have written for the Beatles. It’s the best number on the album and easily in the top five in Weezer’s career.

Living in L.A. is almost the polar opposite, it’s a club song only with real instrumentation. But as the album cover suggests, it’s not a fun club. It’s dark, it’s seedy and the party is ready to swallow you whole, like the city it is named after.

Thankfully the next song is a lighter affair: Piece Of Cake is a a piece of ornate chamber pop, with a great chord progression and with a sweet and sour melody.

I’m just Being Honest is vintage Weezer, a semi-ironic punk-pop earworm with chugging guitars and a catchy tune.

Despite the great arrangement with percussion, cool guitars and almost baroque organ, Too Many Thoughts is not completely satisfying: the melody on the verses seems unfinished. However, the  chorus soars.

The Prince Who Wanted Everything is the other highlight of the set in this reviewer’s opinio: a languid nursery rhyme with fuzz guitars and clever melodyt like a punkier Crowded House.

Byzantine is another lounge number with cool guitars and an angular melody.

The album ends with a heavy, oppressive, over processed number called California Snow which features a lot of effects, and an overly loud bass. Thankfully a piano-driven interlude offers a moment of levity with piano but overall the tone is dark. It’s a good song but a bit of a downer as an album closer.

It may seem like an unimportant detail but I believe this is the first album on which Rivers Cuomo uses cuss words. Whether this, the color of the cover and the overall tone of the record are just incidental is anyone’s guess… Overall this is a very good record from a now veteran band that has been through every color of the rainbow and for whom it has taken a quarter century to finally get to the black.

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