opinion byMATTHEW M. F. MILLER
Weezer is one of the more divisive bands to emerge – and continually re-emerge – from the alt 90s dustbin. Every new album since 2002’s disappointing Maladroit has been dubbed a comeback of sorts, which is press release code for a band trying to recreate the sound that made them famous in the first place. It hasn’t worked, and their fan base has dwindled and their mass appeal is now limited to the nostalgia circuit.
Detractors easily can make a case that their sound is limited at best, often overblown and at least a decade into irrelevance simply by pointing to any album that can’t be referred to by a single color or Pinkerton. But man, when they were good they were viciously literate and, perhaps more importantly, the most fun band rocking the party boat in a vast and stormy sea of shoegazing rockers.
So what to make of the optimistically titled Everything Will Be Alright in the End? “Back To The Shack”, the album’s lead single, definitely offers a version of that stomping, stadium rock Weezer sound we all know and can’t help but sorta love. Cuomo sings for our forgiveness, but unfortunately the song’s muddled mea culpa doesn’t feel like an authentic apology for the their most recent craptastic output – instead it comes across as a backhanded slap to the face for all of the fans who didn’t blindly follow them into their era of indulgence. Cuomo sorely misses stadiums of adoration and, thus, he knows what the band must do – give Weezer lovers what they want. Unfortunately, this “Beverly Hills”-esque ditty isn’t it. And for all of its by-the-numbers bombast, it’s incredibly self-conscious and sad. It’s the worst song on the album, and for those who still consider themselves Weezer fans that’s mostly good news.
“Ain’t Got Nobody” launches the affair with a simple, acerbic and aggressive intent, and while it doesn’t rank among the band’s best, its urgency and frantic guitars (coupled with some classic “doot-doot-doot-doot-de-doot”) accomplishes the album’s singular mission: to remind us why we listened to Weezer in the first place. With producer Ric Ocasek back in-tow, the album manages to inhabit the same sonic realm of the “Blue Album”, albeit it plays more like a collection of that era’s best B-sides. “Lonely Girl”, “The British are Coming” and “Go Away”, a duet with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino doing her best Liz Phair, come closest to recapturing the glory days. Do most of the songs deliver everything we expect from good Weezer songs? Fun? Check. Undeniable catchiness? Check. Wailing guitars? Check. Cleverness? Um … it has its moments, especially on “Foolish Father”, the most honest, personal song on the album. It also boasts one of the more spectacular climaxes on an album full of enormous climaxes, and by the time it erupts into a huge sing-along of “everything will be alright in the end” it’s impossible not to feel reassured.
Everything Will Be Alright in the End is without a doubt better than anything the band has released in the past 10 years, but it’s not a great Weezer album – not by a stretch. In finding their way back to what works, it too often sounds rehashed to make it a true return to form the band has been yearning to find. What makes early Weezer albums work is an earnest, nerdy naiveté that’s impossible to maintain or recapture once superstardom has been achieved. It would be nice if Cuomo and company would embrace that reality without succumbing to its inherent dullness. This definitely is a giant leap in the right direction. C+