Album: The White Album
Label: Crush Music
Release Date: April 1st, 2016
Sometimes I enjoy throwing the “W” word around music fans and watching their reactions. I’ll occasionally get a young fan who blurts “Oh yeah, I love Weezer!” or an older acquaintance that asks, “They sang ‘Buddy Holly’, right?”, but more often than not I’ll get some sort of sigh. The record store clerk I purchased Weezer’s new release, “The White Album”, from appeared to be in his mid-thirties which would have have made him a teenager at the height of Blue and Pinkerton.
Me – Have you heard this one yet?
Him – (slight smirk) No.
Me – Oh ok. Did you hear their last one before this?
Him – (sigh) I haven’t listened to Weezer for a long time.
In an attempt to be as unbiased as possible (it’s not easy), it’s not a stretch to say Weezer mixed things up somewhere in the late 90s/early 2000s. When you contrast the introverted “Blue Album” or self-loathing Pinkerton (90s) to the blissy, stream-of-consciousness “Green Album” or party-til-you-drop Raditude (2000s), it’s easy to see how someone could be a fan of one set and not of the other. Or, more specifically, why someone growing up on their first releases would be taken aback by their later, seemingly more shallow discography.
Even with all of his attitude shifts, Rivers Cuomo has consistently had a knack for effortlessly producing catchy, three-minute pop songs. “The White Album” is no exception. Releasing exactly half of the album as singles leading up to its April Fools Day release, fans got an honest, early taste of “White”. Those who paid close enough attention were rewarded with sneak peaks of the good (for example, the head-banging, kind-hearted “King of the World” which joyfully chronicles Cuomo’s willingness to deal with his wives phobias and insecurities) as well as the bad (the tense, awkward spit-speak of “Thank God for Girls”).
I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the singles foreshadowed the album pretty closely – a lot of bad with a lot of good. The swinging, sunny vibe of “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” which is immediately spoiled by the contrasting “Do You Wanna Get High?”, an overly self-serious single that boasts fittingly aimless lyrics (“Do you wanna get high? It’s like we’re falling in love. We can listen to Bacharach and stop at any point”). In the same vein, long-time listeners are treated with the “Pinkerton”-ish, dynamically-sweeping “L.A. Girlz” towards the end of the album, but are punished with the sophomoric, mostly incoherent “Endless Bummer”, finishing “The White Album” with what is possibly its worst song.
If you’re a newer Weezer fan, stop reading this review and go enjoy the music. If you’ve stuck with Rivers and company this long through their ups and downs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the easy-going “White Album”. If you’re among the group that sighs every time someone brings up Weezer with the same sigh you make when you think about an old friendship that fell apart, consider giving this new album a chance. It may not feel like it, but Pinkerton was released 20 years ago. I know it’s spectacular – it will always rank among my god-tier albums. His newer stuff is a big change and I understand that it can be disheartening, but when I listened to “White” I could still hear that same self-conscious Rivers you adore.
Article by John Reimer.
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