Rivers has made an entire career around alienating his fans. Trickling out just enough of what they like and want, while his bottomless mind of hooks is slowly rounded out until all previous character and nuance is gone. But the narrative is not that easy or simple, because 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End and 2016’s White Album in many ways were his best two records since the ones they came twenty years after, respectively. Perhaps Rivers really just never wants anyone to forget that he can both rock harder and suck more than any of our 90’s heroes.
The throwback success lyrically, musically and direction-wise of their last two records make Pacific Daydream feel all the more frustrating. Like driving by the perfect lemonade stand twice in one day, but the second time the ice has melted and the ratios are all messed up. The lemonade being Weezer, the ice being pop, the lemons being self-loathing, the sugar being alternative instincts. That is to say, there will definitely be people who love this record, but they almost assuredly will not be the same people who consider themselves career fans of Weezer.
“Mexican Fender” has a chorus that soars like a Maroon 5 song and a bridge that sounds like 15 previous ones were written until just the right amount of fake punk was present. The chorus is catchy of course, but perhaps the moments of Weezer that feel so legendary seem to have stumbled into pop rather than this song, which feels like another songwriting session that had to get finished before the catered food got cold. This is the best song on the record, btw.
“Beach Boys” is more painful than anything Mike Love has recorded. I really mean that. The refrain near the end of the track sounds like Diet Brian Wilson. It is reminiscent of a melody he would write if he had to use Splenda instead of sugar. “Feels Like Summer” is the greatest offender. Its one of those painful Cuomo songs that mixes some weird rap lite meets nu-metal verse phrasing and a falsetto chorus that has outstayed its welcome after a few of its 16 repeats.
Almost every song is immaculately structured with a left turn bridge that plays off the melody for maximum impact when the hooky chorus comes back in. Rivers best songs have felt the most off the cuff and his worst songs — most of Make Believe, side b of The Red Album were the most forced. His professional songwriting is in full effect here, the songs coming hot off the perfect alt-rock assembly line.
Elsewhere we have “Happy Hour”, tailor made for a Superbowl liquor ad. “Feels Like Summer” which somehow makes Raditude seem tame. “Weekend Woman” another contender for strongest song, mixes rhythmic strength with a singable chorus with the right amount of space while the melody settles in. “Sweet Mary”, a song that would have been more at home if the record was credited to Rivers Cuomo, moves slowly and patiently, the double time snare hits on the chorus well executing an acceleration of pacing right along with a simple picked guitar.
At the end of it, this record is a mixed bag. Fans of Weezer’s poppier side will find plenty to like. Whereas fans of Weezer’s more well regarded records will wish they chose another producer. Perhaps the demos of these songs could be released as another Alone project? Because underneath the Fall Out Boy sheen lie clever melodies.
The silver lining here is the reported Black Album, which supposedly will contain Rivers cursing and a darker version of the White Album, which after listening to Pacific Daydream sounds even better than it did last summer. Rivers said in an interview last week that we could expect this darker follow up next year. I can’t wait. Their records titled after a color are usually better right? Blue, White, Pink … if Everything Will Be Alright In The End traded titles with the Red Album it would be perfect. C PLUS