Some acts (The Strypes, The Darkness), were born covers bands. Others (Robbie Williams) aspired to covers band-dom. But Weezer are one of precious few acts who have had covers band status thrust upon them.
So convinced was the listening public that ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus was actually by Rivers Cuomo and his crew of proto-emo dweeboids that Weezer eventually succumbed to popular pressure and began playing it live. It became a major semi-comic highlight of the show, so over 2018 they started dropping more covers in – songs carefully selected for just the right balance of cheese, popularity, sing-along-ability and ironic cult cool. ‘Africa’ by Toto. ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’. ‘Take On Me’ by A-Ha. The sort of thing as much at home at a Peckham pop-up launch as your auntie Lorraine’s Essex wedding to Three Tooth Tony.
As a surprise release stop-gap ahead of their forthcoming thirteenth album ‘The Black Album’ – and to cash in on footage of their take on ‘Africa’ going viral, thanks to Weird Al Yankovich’s impersonation of Rivers playing the wobbliest accordion solo ever filmed – here are 10 of them, packaged in a kitsch colour which in itself suggests we don’t take the record as part of the official canon. ‘Africa’ hit the right notes because it dovetailed neatly with Weezer’s embrace of MOR synth-rock, and it’s a seam they mine for the first third of the record: ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ and ‘Take On Me’ delivered with affectionate faithfulness. Only Rivers’ forlorn geography student vocal marks them out as part of this grand old Weez.
Their forays into ’60s pop and classic rock have more of a unique Weezer stamp on. The Turtles’ ‘Happy Together’ is pumped into an emo epic, ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ swaps orchestral extravagance for meaty garage riffage and Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ has Rivers rattling out the sort of convincingly stilted Ozzy impression. Then a final bout of R&B, disco and classic blues sends the whole thing tumbling into all-out lark; you haven’t heard TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ until you’ve heard it with a middle-eight of gnarly punk solos and sung by someone who’s only ever hung out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride to holler maths equations at anyone.
Respectful enough to rouse any struggling family gathering but knowing enough to amuse those in on the joke, ‘The Teal Album’ at once satirises the covers album and makes a decent stab at perfecting it.