Album Review: Weezer (Red Album)

June 3, 2008 at 12:05 pm 3 comments

Let me preface this review by saying that no matter what direction they take, Weezer have left a mark on rock music that will not fade quickly. By staying in the business for over 15 years and consistently churning out monster hits, for better for worse, they have become inextricably melded to the great pantheon of classic rock and roll. The Blue album helped to usher in a new generation of alternative music, fusing the crunchy indie rock of Pavement with the soaring melodies of the Beach Boys. Their second album, Pinkerton, served as one of the great cult classics of the 90’s. Its emotive ramblings matched with Rivers’ gunslinger guitar riffs spread through word of mouth and this thing called the “internet”, eventually garnering platinum status and critics stamp of approval.

After a hefty hiatus, the aughts saw a new slick approach from the crew in the form of a Green album that clocked in under a half hour and contained powerful, calulated bursts of power pop with a decidedly simplified lyrical prowess. Maladroit ushered in an era of excess as Rivers eschewed the short pop dirges for longer, self indulgent guitar solo saturated tributes to his childhood shred head heroes such as Kiss and Slayer. The next album, Make Believe, marked the first traces of alarming stagnation. With warm production and goofy sense of humor in tact, the collection of songs lacked the spark and vitality of the rest of their discography. The lyrics and song structures were utterly devoid of irony and any faint glimmer of experimentation. I began to ponder with increasing trepidation about the concept of a one time flag carrier of underground music longing to live in Beverly Hills with a straight face. Questions began to arise such as, “Is Weezer still relevant”, and “Are they still capable of making an interesting and listenable album? The answers are yes, and sort of, respectively.

The Red album is all at once, fun, progressive, nostalgic, and devastatingly front loaded. It gathers an exilerating head of steam only to fizzle out and die at just over the half way point. But I digress, lets start from the top. Troublemaker gets things rolling at a respectable jaunt that stretches all they way to track 6, Dreamin’. The songs here still contain simple, ridiculous lyrics, but they feel more lighthearted and genuine than anything else they have produced this decade. They feel like the product of an aging man taking a look back at his long career and tipping his hat at it than the outcome of some form of sterile thesis on pop music structure. The songs lightly touch on nostalgia of youth, musical influences, and zany pop culture references. There are plenty of surprises in the production, a laser sound here, a handclap there, that give the album a warm lived in feel. The guitars soar and swell on Pork and Beans and Heart Songs, and chug along through Troublemaker and Everybody Get Dangerous.

The crowning achievement here is the single The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn). A multifaceted genre bending assault of the senses, TGMTEL is proof that Weezer still has importent things to offer in the future. Featuring rap, barbershop quartet influenced vocals, both power pop and grunge breakdowns, and an air guitar chorus, Rivers Cuomo has brought back the Blue Album esque giddy rock-out-in-your-room sensation for the first time since, well…the Blue Album.

The only thing holding the Red album back from being particularly memorable is basically the entire second half of the disc. The other three members of the group take over vocal duties for three songs respectively, and while this is not necessarily a poor concept, it results in zero accolade’s from yours truly. The vocal performances themselves are perfectly acceptable, its the songs themselves that are quite frankly just trite filler. Compared to the tracks that Rivers performs on earlier on the disc, these cuts are unadventurous, repetitive and cliche, fulfilling the AM gold prophecy foretold on Make Believe.

In time this album will sink into obscurity and be forgotten by the masses but beloved by aging Weezer fans who will no doubt confuse future generations with their six finger =w= salute and curious affinity for Happy Days reruns.

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Entry filed under: Album Reviews, Archive, News. Tags: , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wflimusic  |  June 3, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Don’t know what Album you listened to. The best 2 songs are (the last) ‘The Angel And The One’ and (first bonus track) ‘Pig’. I’ll sort of agree with the 2nd half of the CD – tracks 5, and 7-9 are torture. At least they tried something new with the other members… the songs are terrible, but at least it’s not that ‘Make Believe’ dribble. The best songs from Weezer are and will always be the 1s that don’t get included and float aimlessly through the internet and creep up on you when you least expect it anyway!

    Reply
  • 2. Victoria E  |  June 7, 2008 at 3:25 am

    I agree with most of this. I feel overall this album is awesome! It has some of Weezer’s best songs. I just really do not like people other than Rivers singing. He is the mastermind behind Weezer and it’s not Weezer without his lyrics. I absolutely HATED “Thought I knew” and “King”. “Cold Dark World”& “Automatic” were adequate, and the rest of the album rocked! There were some mistakes and flops that they did in the album but they experimented. The rapping in Everybody Get Dangerous was a little cheesy and Red Hot Chili Pepperesque. I also didn’t like the rhythm of speech in Ms. Sweeney’s verses. My only hope is that they don’t go in the other members singing direction again because they’ll lose a big part of their fanbase. I love Weezer basically for Rivers because he is what makes Weezer. The proof is in Alone: The home recordings of Rivers Cuomo. Listen to any song and it sounds like Weezer. Blast Off should have been on the album.

    Reply
  • 3. i killed a girl  |  March 6, 2009 at 6:12 am

    the whole album is a blatant surrender to everything that is ruining popular bands today. Weezer have chosen a life of luxury for their families over giving their fans something real that they can feel. Weezer is over.

    This album is Good Charlotte wearing masks .

    Reply

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