Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album)
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Record Label: Geffen
Has there been a bigger enigma in recent rock and roll memory than Rivers Cuomo, the frontman behind one of the more influential bands of the past 20 years? The Weezer front man made geeky black-rimmed glasses cool again, wrote about his obsession with Asian girls, went to Harvard, practices meditation, practiced celibacy for a while, rocked a hobo beard, then rocked a suit 24/7. He is also known to be a workaholic, writing over 800 songs in his lifetime, and a control freak. Add in rumors that he wouldn’t allow members of bands whom toured with Weezer to make eye contact with him, and you got yourself one weird and mysterious dude. And now with the release of the band’s sixth studio album, we can add one more (awesome) footnote to the legend of Rivers Cuomo.
When the first promo pictures and album art were posted on AP.net, reactions ranged from “WTF?” to “Best album cover ever.” Others wondered if it was just a huge joke and a fake, but the band came out to say that it was 100% serious business. And as a lifelong fan of the band, I took this as a positive, for it looked like Rivers had finally found peace within himself and the band and the growth of the epic moustache was evidence of this.
With a relaxed Cuomo and a new approach to recording (taking input from everyone in the band), Weezer looked to bounce back from a string of disappointing albums since their return from hiatus in 2001. While 2005’s Make Believe was an attempt to return to a more personal sound and touch, it mainly sounded forced. But on Weezer (or The Red Album as it’s been dubbed by the Weezer faithful), it’s pretty clear that the band is back to having a rip-roaring time making music, as the breezy jam “Troublemaker” kicks off the album.
The definite highlight of the album is the following track “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn),” which is full of twists and turns. Finger snaps, gang vocals, hymns, and breakneck guitar riffs are just a few of the vibes you get, as it should go down as one of the best Weezer songs in their career. “Pork and Beans” sounds straight out of the Blue era, with its loud chorus and quirky lyrics fitting in just nice.
“Heart Songs” is a slow, ballad-type track where Cuomo recounts the albums and songs that turned him into the person and musician he is today, while “Dreamin’” is a tune that prods along with familiar chords we’ve heard on previous Weezer albums. The Red Album takes a turn into the absurd with “Everybody Get Dangerous,” which sounds a bastard child between a bad hip-hop song and Weezer. Fans may love it just for it’s ridiculous, but that does not make it a good song whatsoever.
The next three tracks show the new side of Weezer, with the other three band members – guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Scott Shriner, and drummer Pat Wilson – overtaking lead vocal duties. “Thought I Knew,” which was initially written by Bell’s other band, The Relationship, was reworked and re-recorded as a Weezer track with Bell taking over lead. “Cold Dark World” is what Shriner refers to as a “creepy-happy” track, with positive lyrics backed by chilling piano keys and a cold drum beat. Shriner’s vocals are sharp and rough, a stark contrast to Bell’s smooth vocals. Wilson’s turn on lead vocals occurs on “Automatic,” a big rocker that also features Cuomo’s on drums and Wilson on lead guitar. This sequence of songs easily shows the experimental portion of the record the band was trying to achieve, and while it’s not bad, it’s just not Weezer and rubs me the wrong way. Cuomo’s vocals are a staple of the band’s music. It disrupts the flow and vibe the album was riding on throughout the first six tracks.
Although everything returns to normal on the climatic “The Angel and the One,” a track noted to be the band’s favorite on The Red Album. It’s has the personal touch like Pinkerton’s “Butterfly” possessed, while having the beautiful build-up that “Only In Dreams” displayed. It closes out the album beautiful and gives you hope that Weezer have rediscovered their winning ways.
If I had to draw a metaphor Weezer, it’d be that they are like the significant other that tried hard when pursuing you but then eased back and become lazy after they got you. You stay with them because you’re hoping that, one day, they’ll return to what you feel in love with in the first place, and with The Red Album, Weezer is doing just that. Sure, it’s no where near the impact and deliciousness that the first two albums entail, but it borrows from both albums and executes well enough to make this a worthwhile addition to your album collection. The lyrics are horrid, but let’s be honest, Cuomo’s has always been known to write awkward and nonsensical lyrics. Musically though, the band is at the top of their game. Rick Rubin and Jacknife Lee produce it beautifully, and the nostalgic feel throughout the record is refreshing to this old time Weezer fan. Weezer is having fun again, and it seems that Rivers Cuomo is finally comfortable. Long live The ‘Stache.
When the first promo pictures and album art were posted on AP.net, reactions ranged from “WTF?” to “Best album cover ever.” Others wondered if it was just a huge joke and a fake, but the band came out to say that it was 100% serious business. And as a lifelong fan of the band, I took this as a positive, for it looked like Rivers have finally found peace within himself and the band and the growth of the epic moustache was evidence of this.
I think I'm in the minority but I really like the three songs done by the other members. I will fully agree that it wrecks the momentum of the album but most of the time I just load up a bunch of cd's into Winamp and shuffle them anyways so it doesn't cause a huge problem.
If you haven't heard the deluxe issue, you should try to get those four tracks. I think the inclusion of those four tracks really boosted my overall feel for the album. Rivers' vocal melody and rhythm on "Miss. Sweeney" is one of the more interesting vocal portions of the cd IMO and "Pig" is just a fantastic song.
But again, I really enjoyed reading the review and glad that Weezer actually sounds like they're having fun again.
The Red Album takes a turn into the absurd with “Everybody Get Dangerous,” which sounds a bastard child between a bad hip-hop song and Weezer. Fans may love it just for it’s ridiculous, but that does not make it a good song whatsoever.
I ABSOLUTELY disagree. "Everybody Get Dangerous" is an amazing rock song and is one of the highlights of this album. The lyrics are great and fit in perfectly w/ much of this album's sarcasm. Also you might want to read through this review again, there's some simple grammatical mistakes to clean up.
I think I've heard the "significant other" comparison used for Weezer before, but I kind of agree. That band was Incubus for me, but now we've broken up and I punched her in the back of the head on her way out.
I'll give Red a listen tonight after work, solid review.
I couldn't stand the lyrics and I refuse to let this album be in my Weezer collection IMO.
Yeah, true, Cuomo's never had great lyrics, but the entire album sounded like he wanted to look so badass that it just came through to me as laughable.
In Blue Album, the guy admitted he was kind of a dork ("In The Garage"), now it just sounds like he's trying to re-construct his image by forcing "I'm the meanest in the place/Step up I'll mess with your face" bullshit into our ears.