If there’s a more disappointing position in fandom than being an Arsenal supporter, it’s probably being a Weezer fan. And if you’re a Weezer lover from Finsbury Park, God help you. That being said, the band’s back catalogue post-2000 is often unfairly maligned. Burrowed between the nonsense of Jermaine Dupri collaborations and songs rejected for the Shrek 2 soundtrack are nuggets of pop-rock gold that stand among the band’s proudest moments. At their best, Rivers Cuomo and co. create heartstopping bursts of overwrought pop-rock, overloaded with teeth-rotting sweet regret and teenage angst. If ever a back-catalogue needed reappraising, it’s this one…
An album as inexplicable as its title and nearly as inexcusable, this misguided meander into mindnumbing pop is near indefensible. Somehow ‘The Girl Got Hot’ and ‘In The Mall’ are inaner than your imagination could ever dare to dream such songs would be. ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ is a track even Lil’ Wayne sounds embarrassed to be a part of.
Incredibly, these twelve tracks are the best of literally hundreds of demos produced over three years. Home of ‘Beverly Hills’, the answer to the question no one asked: what would Weezer sound like if the band were Bud Light-fuelled frat boys? At least, the opening solo on ‘Perfect Situation’ at is one of Cuomo’s finest fret fiddlers but other than that, it’s an aberration.
An album doomed to be decimated by expectations from the moment it was announced, if you search among the debris there’s some gems. ‘O Girlfriend’ is a drenched in melancholy lament for a star-crossed lover and ‘Hash Pipe’ hits the head harder than a sawn-off shotgun blast. Unfortunately, these are the interludes between perfectly passable but perfunctory tunes.
The meticulously messy ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ is a shooting spree through a dozen genres of music that the band have no right to be meddling with but it’s a marvelous massacre to watch. Elsewhere, ‘Dreaming’ crescendos from a crestfallen middle-section to a stunning climax, as does the cheesy-as-Cliff-Richard-cased-in-camembert ‘The Angel and The One’. Sadly, Cuomo’s co-conspirators’ contributions pale in comparison, ‘Thought I Knew’ makes your lint trapper look fascinating.
Nothing strikes horror into the human heart like the harrowing liner-notes confession of “featuring Michael Cera on mandolin.” Yet ‘Hurley’ is a riotous hootenanny with a star cast of collaborators. The cringe-worthy moments systematic of late-Weezer are still around, but Cuomo’s croon on the Ryan Adams-assisted ‘Run Away’ quivers under the weight of implied indiscretions and something Weezer fans have missed for nearly 15 years- a yearning. If this is their curtain call, they can bow out with their heads high.
Its lyrics may be as meaningless as a CAPTCHA test, but it doesn’t matter- this is an ADHD master-class in the two-minute pop-rock single. The album undulates with urgency, on ‘Slob’ the band can’t seem to chug their guitars fast enough to keep up with Cuomo’s sneering malaise for modern society. ‘Possibilities’ is a blink and you’ll miss it bottle rocket of power-pop rock that blasts a tunnel stretching from one ear to another. Cuomo chucks away riffs like no one’s business and makes it look so easy.
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The album that launched a million power chords. The dross of a hundred paper-thin copies of grunge giants was wiped away by the sound of one cherry bomb of bubblegum pop- ‘Buddy Holly’. The LP known as “The Blue Album” was the ideal soundtrack for budding teenagers. Yet behind this elaborate power-pop backdrop there is an underlying sadness. ‘In The Garage’ is on one hand an ode to the stranger than fiction rock heroes that keep him company, but when the bass pulses alone with the vocal, Cuomo’s isolation is exposed. The debut culminates with the reprise of ‘Only In Dreams’: the guitar commencing chugging in the bottleneck built by the bass riff, eventually bursts like shaken-up Mountain Dew and tastes almost as sweet.
The negative print of its predecessor’s carefree vibes, the paranoia hinted at on that record corroded through this one and rippled through each revolution of the record. ‘Across the Sea’ aches with obsession, ‘Why Bother?’ pines with pain; Cuomo’s vocal chords resonate with such self-hatred that they seem at a greater risk of being shredded than the guitar. Shamed unwanted thoughts and scrawled unsent letters are all stuffed into this Perspex confession box of 10 tracks. Pinkerton splices together frames of disillusion, disenchantment and disappointment to set the prototype for an entire generation of emotional pop-rock. Part curiosity shop, part house of mirrors, one of the most startling but rewarding listens of a generation.
Listen to a selection of Weezer’s music from each album in the Spotify playlist below