Weezer – ‘OK Human’ review: an orchestral pop paean to much-needed connection

The guitar heroes have – gulp – ditched the guitars for a bold new direction. The result is an evocative, intimate record that'll make you pine for the old world

Have you noticed that everyone spends all their time looking at screens these days? Rivers Cuomo has. On ‘Screens’, a track from Weezer’s technophobic new orchestral pop album ‘OK Human’, he paints a picture of work-from-homers getting distracted by computer solitaire and streaming Blackpink. “Now the real world is dying as everybody moves into the cloud,” sings Cuomo. “Can you tell me where we’re going? Where will we be 21 years from now? Everybody stares at the screens…”

READ MORE: Weezer: “This album is about feeling isolated, alienated and secluded – it’s perfect for now”

He’s not wrong, but in 2021 the idea that we’re maybe all spending a bit too much time on our phones isn’t the radical call-to-arms it once might have been. It’s telling that Cuomo started writing the songs that make up ‘OK Human’ back in 2017, when albums dealing with themes of isolation and seclusion while casting a wary eye towards the future of tech were all the rage. (Father John Misty’s ‘Pure Comedy’ was released that year, with Arctic Monkeys‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ following a year later.)

And that’s not the only aspect that makes this new album – completed during the pandemic – land a little strangely now. On ‘Aloo Gobi’, Cuomo sings about his “dull routine” of going out for an Indian meal and a cinema date. In 2021, as plague expert Shakespeare might have put it: my kingdom for a curry and a movie!

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That said, there’s plenty to delight Weezer fans and newcomers here. Cuomo has rarely been so frank or so open in his lyrics, welcoming the listener into his home studio on ‘Play My Piano’ and writing wittily about the harmful effect of obsessing over statistics on ‘Numbers’. And you may well agree with the man himself, who recently told NME that he felt the record had become accidentally prescient. “This is probably the best possible time for this album,” he said. “It’s about feeling isolated and alienated and secluded, so it’s the perfect album for now.”

Musically, the decision to forgo electric guitars in favour of full orchestration gives the record a lush warmth that never feels stuffy or staid. Quite the opposite, in fact – listen closely to closing track ‘La Brea Tar Pits’ and you’ll hear drummer Patrick Wilson casually answering his phone in the middle of a take. Moments like the above are kind of the point: we may live in a tech-obsessed world, but Weezer have delivered an album that’s intimate, thoughtful and resolutely human.

Details

Release date: January 29

Record label: Atlantic Records

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