Weezer formed in Los Angeles in 1992 when Rivers Cuomo, son of jazz drummer Frank and mother Beverley, teamed up with Patrick Wilson (drums), Matt Sharp and later Scott Shriner (bass) and rhythm guitarist Brian Bell. That ensemble would be largely responsible for sales of 17 million plus albums worldwide. Named Weezer because of River’s asthma they made their debut (sometimes called The Blue Album) with Cars man Ric Ocasek as the perfect production foil, for their weird take on pop music. Geffen released “Undone – The Sweater Song” as the first single and it was an immediate hit. The geeky “Buddy Holly” with it’s infernally catchy oo-wee-oo chorus name checking the subject and the American actress Mary Tyler Moore was even more successful while the poignant “Say It Ain’t So” completed a trilogy of teenage angst tracks that connected with their natural audience and amused older hands. Looking back certain critics noted that Weezer had pre-empted the whole emo movement but you could hardly cast them in that scope for long since they were determined to hit the arenas with something thrilling. That album lit up many a collection in 1994 and is now totally recommended for discovery. The combination of Cheap Trick and Raspberries class tunes and the punky distillation of metal influences have kept it fresh. Try the 2004 Deluxe edition where a bonus disc, Dusty Gems and Raw Nuggets, collates some rarities and the band’s early demos aka Kitchen Tape plus a couple of pre-Ocasek pre-production numbers.
Pinkerton (1996) was created while Cuomo was finishing his studies at Harvard University. Somewhat darker and moodier than the debut Pinkerton still throws up grandeur: “The Good Life”, “El Scorcho” and the sexually charged “Pink Triangle” were now self-produced and if one reads between the lines many of the ideas are filtered via an original desire to make a conceptual rock opera a la Madame Butterfly (Pinkerton is the name of a character in Puccini’s masterpiece). Another unholy collision between Big Star and Brian Wilson this album was underrated on release but listening to the Deluxe edition (2010) proves that Cuomo was creating some of his finest work while Weezer were also on fire as a live act – check the inclusion of tracks recorded at that year’s Reading Festival where they blew the place apart.
Following a considerable hiatus and further studies Cuomo got the gang back together for album #3, also confusingly called Weezer (but known to all as The Green Album). Ever keen on synchronicity Weezer reunited with Ocasek and went back to basics, fusing hard rock tracks like “Hash Pipe” to poppier alternative rock on “Islands in the Sun” which has a Beach Boys euphoria in the groove. New bass player Mikey Welsh provided a short-lived replacement for Sharp who left to focus on The Rentals.
Maladroit (2002) maintains the standard. Shriner is now full time bass player but you wouldn’t spot the join on key cuts like “Dope Nose” and the gloriously paranoid “Keep Fishin’”. Short and sweet Maladroit may be but it packs intense melodies into 33 minutes of sheer pop magic. Following limited edition EP The Lion and the Witch Cuomo and company hooked up with Rick Rubin to produce the consistent selling Make Believe (2005). The controversial social commentary of “We Are All on Drugs” proved that Rivers was still bent on rattling cages and ruffling feathers, the mainstream may be at his disposal but he doesn’t allow Weezer to dilute themselves. The very El Lay flavoured “Beverley Hills” has a video featuring a cameo from Hugh ‘Playboy’ Hefner but isn’t entirely intended to poke fun at Hollywood excesses – or is it?
In 2008 Weezer made their sixth studio album and called it…Weezer (aka The Red Album). Rubin remains in the console hot seat with Jacknife Lee and the band chipping in. The fantastic “Heart Songs” is a nostalgic nod to Cuomo’s heroes; Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Gibson and Nirvana are all referenced. Experimental in places, it’s well worth hunting this down for “Pork and Beans”, “Troublemaker” and the Aerosmith-fired “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)” where you’ll find more tops o’ the hat to Nirvana, Elvis, Green Day, Slipknot and Jeff Buckley plus a police siren and one of River’s trademark falsetto vocals. Good stuff.
An increased interest in hip-hop, albeit filtered via the Weezer pop medium, makes Raditude (2009) another dead cert for discovery. With plenty of synth noise and guests including Lil Wayne, Kenny G, Josh Freese and Nishat Khan this is possibly the band’s most off the wall project. Metal man Butch Walker, from SouthGang, is game from the get go and Jacknife’s influence is apparent in the move towards programming and treated keyboards. A #1 on the US Alternative chart this is also their most collaborative disc but the smart commercialism of “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and the psych riffy “I’m Your Daddy” are outstanding. The Deluxe Edition Bonus includes fan favourites “Run Over by a Truck” and “The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World” while the iTunes Pass offers club mixes and a crunchy live take on The Clash classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.
If it’s abundantly clear that Weezer don’t conform to most people’s idea of the norm then Hurley and the hybrid Death to False Metal hammer the point home. Back to the main event and Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014) where the team are in cahoots with Ric Ocasek, seeking out “the sound and the energy” of their early discs. Highlights are the revolutionary war epic “The British Are Coming” and the oddball “Da Vinci” although long time fanatics are all over “Cleopatra”, which could almost have been on that debut. Whatever, this is another must-discover item.
Total Cuomo nuts will want to check the man’s home recording trilogy Alone 1, 11 and 111 and his Not Alone –Rivers Cuomo and Friends: Live at Fingerprints (2008). Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo is a peach with a cover of Greg Alexander (New Radicals) “The World We Love So Much” and the deeply emotional “Wanda (You’re My Only Love)”.
One thing is for sure, whenever you see the fingers held aloft in honour of the Weezer ‘W’ or trip back in time to their own version of Happy Days, The Beach Boys and uplifting neo-metal pop you will realize you are in the presence of a great American rock band. Which is where we came in.
Words: Max Bell
From the pounding, primal assault of the opening track, "Tired of Sex," it's clear from the outset that Pinkerton is a different record than the sunny, heavy guitar pop of Weezer's eponymous debut. The first noticeable difference is the darker, messier sound -- the guitars rage and squeal, the beats are brutal and visceral, the vocals are mixed to the front, filled with overlapping, off-the-cuff backing vocals. In short, it sounds like the work of a live band, which makes it all the more ironic that Pinkerton, at its core, is a singer/songwriter record, representing Rivers Cuomo's bid for respectability. Since he hasn't changed Weezer's blend of power pop and heavy metal (only the closing song, "Butterfly," is performed acoustically), many critics and much of the band's casual fans didn't notice Cuomo's significant growth as a songwriter. Loosely structured as a concept album based on Madame Butterfly, each song works as an individual entity, driven by powerful, melodic hooks, a self-deprecating sense of humor ("Pink Triangle" is about a crush on a lesbian), and a touching vulnerability ("Across the Sea," "Why Bother?"). Weezer can still turn out catchy, offbeat singles -- "The Good Life" has a chorus that is more memorable than "Buddy Holly," "El Scorcho" twists Pavement's junk-culture references in on itself, "Falling for You" is the most propulsive thing they've yet recorded -- but the band's endearing geekiness isn't as cutesy as before, which means the album wasn't as successful on the charts. But it's the better album, full of crunching power pop with a surprisingly strong emotional undercurrent that becomes all the more resonant with each play.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Even if you lived through it, it's hard to fathom exactly why Weezer were disliked, even loathed, when they released their debut album in the spring of 1994. If you grew up in the years after the heyday of grunge, it may even seem absurd that the band were considered poseurs, hair metal refugees passing themselves off as alt-rock by adapting a few tricks from the Pixies and Nirvana songbooks and sold to MTV with stylish videos. Nevertheless, during alt-rock's heyday of 1994, Weezer was second only to Stone Temple Pilots as an object of scorn, bashed by the rock critics and hipsters alike. Time has a way of healing, even erasing, all wounds, and time has been nothing but kind to Weezer's eponymous debut album (which would later be dubbed The Blue Album, due to the blue background of the cover art). At the time of its release, the group's influences were discussed endlessly -- the dynamics of the Pixies, the polished production reminiscent of Nevermind, the willful outsider vibe borrowed from indie rock -- but few noted how the group, under the direction of singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo, synthesized alt-rock with a strong '70s trash-rock predilection and an unwitting gift for power pop, resulting in something quite distinctive. Although the group wears its influences on its sleeve, Weezer pulls it together in a strikingly original fashion, thanks to Cuomo's urgent melodicism, a fondness for heavy, heavy guitars, a sly sense of humor, and damaged vulnerability, all driven home at a maximum volume. While contemporaries like Pavement were willfully, even gleefully obscure, and skewed toward a more selective audience, Weezer's insecurities were laid bare, and the band's pop culture obsessions tended to be universal, not exclusive. Plus, Cuomo wrote killer hooks and had a band that rocked hard -- albeit in an uptight, nerdy fashion -- winding up with direct, immediate music that connects on more than one level. It's both clever and vulnerable, but those sensibilities are hidden beneath the loud guitars and catchy hooks. That's why the band had hits with this album -- and not just hits, but era-defining singles like the deliberate dissonant crawl of "Undone - The Sweater Song," the postironic love song of "Buddy Holly," the surging "Say It Ain't So" -- but could still seem like a cult band to the dedicated fans; it sounded like the group was speaking to an in-crowd, not the mass audience it wound up with. If, as Howard Hawks said, a good movie consists of three great scenes and no bad ones, it could be extrapolated that a good record contains three great songs and no bad ones -- in that case, Weezer is a record with at least six or seven great songs and no bad ones. That makes for a great record, but more than that, it's a great record emblematic of its time, standing as one of the defining albums of the '90s.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
There's a reason why Weezer's third album consciously recalls the band's first, not just in its eponymous title, but in its stark cover, Ric Ocasek production, and tight pop songs. That's not because Weezer was trying to recapture its core audience, because, unbeknown to the band, it already had. Once its second album, Pinkerton, stiffed on the charts and was lambasted in the press (including an devastatingly unfair pan from Rolling Stone, who named it the worst album of 1996), the group dropped out of sight and leader Rivers Cuomo went into seclusion. Remarkably, the group's following, unlike so many of its peers -- from forgotten label-sponsored alt-rockers like Nada Surf to indie rockers as respected as Sebadoh -- never waned, it only strengthened, as fans slowly realized the brilliance of Pinkerton and how the debut only seemed better, catchier, funnier as the years passed. Weezer eventually realized this through the magic of the Internet (plus an uproarious Japanese tour), and hit the road in 2000, knocking out a new album at the end of the year, when the band realized that there were thousands of fans eager to hear a new record. The cynical out there might interpret this as crass commercialism -- "hey! they only made a record when they realized people were listening" -- but it's actually a reflection of one of Weezer's greatest strengths: Cuomo's shyness and awkwardness, neither of which he can disguise, no matter how he tries. He didn't want to record another album unless he knew somebody was listening, because he didn't know if there was a purpose otherwise. This is the quality that came shining through on Pinkerton (and is most likely the reason he disdains the album as too personal, no matter how great it is), and it's also apparent on this Weezer album (which will inevitably be known as The Green Album, much like how fans dubbed the debut The Blue Album, due to its cover background), even if he consciously shies away from the stark autobiography that made the previous album. Sure, there may be clues tucked away in any of these songs, but for the most part, this is simply a collection of punk-pop songs in the now-patented Weezer style. And that, quite frankly, is more than enough. This may be a very short album -- a mere 28:34, actually -- but that just makes it bracing, a reminder of how good, nay, great this band can be. Especially since this is a conscious return to the band's debut, this may seem like nothing special -- it's just punk-pop, delivered without much dynamic range but with a whole lot of hooks -- but nobody else does it this so well, no matter how many bands try. And, frankly, that's enough, because this band rocks tight and focused, with wonderful melodies and songs that have enough little details to give them personality, even when Rivers is avoiding personality. This is a combination of great performances and great songwriting, something that puts to shame both the mainstream rockers and underground wannabes of the early 2000s. That's Weezer's great strength -- they certainly are accessible, but they're so idiosyncratic within that realm, it's hard not to think of them as outsiders. The fact that this Weezer sounds as fresh as the first is as much a testament to the band's talents as the musical stagnation of the post-grunge, post-Britpop '90s, but three albums out, Weezer has yet to deliver a record that isn't immensely satisfying. Yeah, it's about 70 cents per minute, but you'd be a fool not to consider it just about the best value of any rock record released in 2001.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
As a Rolling Stone cover story on newsstands the week before the release of Make Believe made clear, Weezer leader Rivers Cuomo is an odd, ornery sort. He's a genuine rock & roll maverick, at once attracted and repelled by his star status, disappearing for long stretches at a time, often to return to college. He writes and records far more songs than whatever winds up on a final Weezer record, which are often whittled down to just 30 or 40 minutes, leaving untold numbers of songs in the vaults. What makes the situation even stranger is for as obstinate and unpredictable as he is, Cuomo does not make odd music: he's a pop songwriter fronting a hard rock band, equally enamored with big choruses and loud guitars. While each of Weezer's records has a defining characteristic -- whether it's a sound, a lyrical theme, or simply an emotional feel -- that separates it from its predecessor, each album is clearly written from the same perspective: that of a brainy misfit raised on cheap metal and new wave, whose nerdiness always kept him on the outside looking in. This was true even after Cuomo became a star, thanks in large part to how he had a gift for articulating how very awkward he felt within the constructs of a catchy, melodic, concise pop song. But as rock stars since Elvis have learned, fans are a demanding lot, especially when they identify so heavily with a specific work, as Weezer's cult did with Pinkerton, the band's second album. It flopped upon its 1996 release but became a word-of-mouth hit over the next five years, leading up to their eagerly awaited comeback, Weezer, their second eponymous album that is otherwise known as The Green Album. Appropriately for a self-titled affair, Weezer functioned as an introduction to a new incarnation of a band, one that sounded similar but had a different outlook: namely, one that was deliberately notintrospective, a conscious shift away from plaintive introspection of Pinkerton. The Green Album and its quickly released 2002 follow-up, Maladroit, were both sharply written, tightly constructed, quite excellent, and popular rock records, but that didn't stop some fans from grumbling that neither album was as affecting as Pinkerton. Those same fans will likely not be happy with Cuomo's return to musical, emotional bloodletting with 2005's Make Believe. It may be a spiritual cousin to Pinkerton, yet it's far removed from the raw, nervy immediacy of that album. Nearly ten years separate the two records, a long time by any measure, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Cuomo has a far different emotional outlook here. On Make Believe he purposely avoids the pain and torture of Pinkerton, where the guitars exploded and scraped, complementing the torment in his lyrics. Here, Cuomo is trying to sort things out, sometimes beating himself up over past mistakes, sometimes looking at his surroundings sardonically, but something separates Make Believe from previous Weezer albums: a palpable sense of optimism, a feeling of hope, a new positivity. That's not really what the legions of Pinkerton fans are looking for. They're likely going to find some of his lyrics perilously close to a self-help manual, particularly when Cuomo writes a sappy ode to his best friend -- and it's pretty much a given that they won't respond to Rick Rubin's sleek, layered, propulsive production, which makes Weezer sound far more new wave than Ric Ocasek ever did. (Rubin also keeps the band far away from the pseudo-new wave of the Killers and the Bravery, which is why he's a highly paid pro.) But let those fans pine for the past, because the very things that they'll find irritating about Make Believe are what make it yet another first-rate Weezer record. Part of the band's appeal is that Cuomo not only skirts the edge of embarrassment, he frequently passes far beyond it, and while that very trait is irritating in the hands of lesser-talented emo bands, in Rivers, it's quite ingratiating and endearing because he has the musical skills to back up his self-analysis. He never overwrites, either in his words or melodies, his songs are carefully, precisely crafted pop, and his love of metal and rock gives his music muscle and balls. These gifts are as evident on Make Believe as they had been on every other Weezer record -- the only difference is this has a lighter, brighter feel than any of its predecessors, not just in the music but in its outlook. It might not be what Weezer fans want, but as that aforementioned Rolling Stone article made clear, Cuomo never cared much about that in the first place. If they're not immediately taken with Make Believe, give it time. After all, Pinkerton didn't win fans immediately.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
An old critical cliché is that eponymous albums are statements of purpose, so what to make of Weezer and their third color-coded self-titled album? Well, the band proves that axiom true, as every one of these eponymous efforts functions as an act of introduction, from their 1994 Blue debut to their 2001 Green comeback to 2008's Red Album, where Rivers Cuomo turns many of the group's long-standing rules upside down. This isn't a radical sonic makeover -- ever a pop formalist, Rivers has Weezer stick to their signatures of big guitars and bigger hooks -- but rather a question of attitude, as Cuomo loosens up as he stares down his impending middle age, choosing to get silly rather than serious. He tears down his self-imposed three-minute barriers, writing two long-form suites (and another track that clocks in over five minutes), he sneers at Timbaland's hitmaking prowess in "Pork and Beans," he never avoids his age, whether he's making asides to Rogaine or indulging in warm nostalgia in the pseudo-"In the Garage" sequel "Heart Songs" and, most importantly, he steals a page from the Noel Gallagher playbook and deliberately shares the spotlight with his bandmates. Not for nothing does Weezer cover "The Weight" as a bonus track on one of the international editions of the Red Album -- nowadays, everybody in Weezer gets a chance to sing lead, just like the Band did way back when. Bassist Scott Shriner is given Cuomo's mildly creepy original "Cold Dark World" to sing, but longtime fellow travelers, guitarist Brian Bell and drummer Pat Wilson, write and sing their own tunes ("Thought I Knew" and "Automatic," respectively), turning in sweet pop tunes that complement Cuomo's style even if they help give the Red Album a bit of a ragged edge, especially when compared to the brutal efficiency of Maladroit and the oversized, highly buffed Make Believe. Of course, the very point of the Red Album is for Weezer to not take things so seriously, to reconnect to their beginnings while taking the advantage of their rock star status to act seriously goofy. This freedom is entirely within the mind -- musically, this is all easily identifiable as Weezer -- but it invigorates such seemingly by the books rockers as "Troublemaker," where the loopy lyrics are as prominent and irresistible as the hooks. As the album opener, it sets the stage for a cheerfully restless record, one where all the parts don't fit and it's better because of it, as it has a wild, willing personality, suggesting that Weezer is comfortable as a band in a way they never quite have been before. Given that feeling, it makes perfect sense that the Red Album is another self-titled record, as it plays like an opening to a new chapter instead of merely more of the same.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Bands used to make records like this all the time. They'd release an album, tour all year, write a bunch of songs, record 'em, release another album a year later. Since hardly anybody -- not even indie bands -- did that in 2002, it's a remarkable event when Weezer does exactly that, especially following a half a decade of inactivity. But, it's hard not to think that this is the way it should be done by all bands, since Maladroit retains the high quality of The Green Album. True, it doesn't offer much that's new -- it has a similarly short length, clocking in at 33 minutes, it favors riff-heavy, melodic rockers and has a lack of ballads, while Rivers Cuomo is doggedly avoiding the exposed-nerve confessions of Pinkerton -- but there are a couple notable differences that give it its own character. Since the band has returned to self-producing, there's a tougher sound -- nowhere near as raw as Pinkerton, yet similarly loud and raucous, overflowing with guitars spitting out riffs and solos with a gleeful abandon. So, it's essentially a harder-rocking version of the last album. But you know what? It doesn't matter because the band is at a peak. Cuomo continues to write consistently strong songs, occasionally penning a flat-out stunner ("Dope Nose" is one of Weezer's all-time greatest songs), the band is tighter than ever, and the record crackles with energy -- nothing new, per se, but still vibrant, catchy, and satisfying. It's so good, it's hard not to think that it offers definitive proof that even in 2002, it's best for a band to keep going once they've hit a peak, to turn out a bunch of records that find them at the top of their game instead of waiting three or four years to craft a follow-up. After all, that's what builds not only a body of work, but a legacy.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
If Weezer's 2008 eponymous Red Album was all about singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo coming to terms with heading into middle age, then 2009's Raditude finds Cuomo looking back upon his own carefree, dirt bike-riding youth and writing songs about it, but filtered through the eyes of Weezer's younger fans. In that sense, Raditude comes off as a kind of Big Chill-esque concept album for Gen-Y kids who grew up in the '90s. To these ends, Cuomo packs these largely poppy and rockin' songs with concrete images and cultural references that are just slightly warped and out of phase with his own generational timeline. As on the driving, '60s-soul inflected opening track "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," Cuomo croons to his teenage girlfriend, "Your Slayer t-shirt fit the scene just right" and later, "We watched Titanic and it didn't make us sad." The Titanic reference is clearly a touchstone for any Gen-Y kid, and even the Slayer shout-out -- though an '80s metal band -- seems to imply a '90s teen wearing her older brother's worn-out t-shirt. At first, the song seems to be a sophomoric and jokey make-out track hinging on the line, "So make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." However, the song ends with the teen couple staring at each other as grown-ups in a troubled marriage with nothing left to say to fix their problems but, "make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." The ironic ending only backs up the notion that Cuomo, having worked through his own mid-life crisis on the "Red Album," now has his aging Gen-Y fans and their issues on his mind. Musically, Raditude really sounds like vintage Weezer, but never in a pandering, played-out way. In that sense, we get the band's now-classic mix of old-school '50s pop with big, hooky '70s rawk guitars, and tracks like sublimely power poppy "I'm Your Daddy," and the cheeky glitter rock-inspired anthem "The Girl Got Hot" are as sparkling with creative enthusiasm as anything the band has done since "Buddy Holly." Similarly, tracks that include the slight hip-hop and R&B touches the band has favored in recent years fit perfectly into the sound of an album crafted for an audience who came of age in the late '90s and early '00s. Even the much anticipated party-rap song "Can't Stop the Partying" featuring rapper Lil Wayne is a dark, minor-key rumination on the downside of living it up on the party circuit and is the furthest thing from white-guy novelty-rap goofiness. Ultimately, it's Weezer's deft mixing of immediately hummable rock with lyrics that reveal Cuomo's own melancholy gaze on the pop landscape that makes Raditude a passionate surrender to growing up and a throw-your-arms-up-and-scream ride down the other side of the mid-life roller coaster.
Words: Matt Collar
Leaping from the majors to the indies, Weezer misses not a beat, choosing to continue the co-writing craze Rivers Cuomo kicked off on 2009’s Raditude. Hurley -- named after Jorge Garcia’s beloved Lost character for no particular reason, but anybody with three eponymous albums in an eight-LP career doesn’t care much for titles in the first place -- is marginally louder and rougher than the clean sheen of Raditude, but not enough to fool anybody into thinking this is a punk rebirth. For Cuomo, independence means he can follow whatever notion seizes his fancy, and in this case he’s capitalizing on collaborations, penning eight of Hurley’s ten songs (the album runs four longer on a Deluxe Edition that includes a strong cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida”) with a roster so diverse it borders on the nonsensical. Rivers is open to writing with anybody: he’ll construct slick modern pop with professional songsmiths Desmond Child and Linda Perry; sharpen up his power pop with the assistance of fellow former college rockers Dan Wilson and Ryan Adams, whose respective “Ruling Me” and “Run Away” are among the album’s highlights; and craft his sweetest, smartest tunes with No Doubt’s Tony Kanal (the crisp “Smart Girls”) and Rick Nowels, who co-wrote the classic “You Get What You Give” with Gregg Alexander and collaborates on “Hang On” here -- then, of all people, Cuomo gets old pro Mac Davis to work on the closer, “Time Flies.” Nothing on paper ties all these writers together but Rivers is the common denominator, so there’s a consistency of sound -- his co-writers amplify quirks and help him hone his craft, turning the songs tight and efficient. Sometimes, the quirks become overwhelming -- the one-note joke “Where’s My Sex?” wears out its welcome by the second verse -- but usually the melodies and riffs are clean, simple, and powerful, hooking immediately and sticking around for a while. Again, Cuomo doesn’t suppress his emotion; he just prefers sentiment (albeit delivered somewhat ironically as on lead single “Memories”), but what he loves most of all is a pure pop song and Hurley offers up its fair share.
Words Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Two songs into Everything Will Be Alright in the End, Rivers Cuomo sings "we belong in the rock world," a repudiation of the big beat experimentation of Raditude, a 2009 record that found Weezer working with such pop producers as Dr. Luke and Butch Walker. Weezer fans eager for Pinkerton, Pt. 2 are often quick to bristle at Cuomo's experimentations, so when the guitarist sings that they're "rockin' out like it's '94," he's not only not lying -- they went so far as to once again hire Ric Ocasek, the producer of the group's debut, to helm this ninth studio album -- but he's reassuring his audience that he's left all those pounding dance beats behind. The weird thing is, Weezer already shook off the ghost of Raditude via 2010's quickly released indie Hurley, so the emphasis on the group returning to rock feels a little odd, but Everything Will Be Alright in the End does trump its immediate predecessor by being bigger, bolder, slicker, and stickier than Hurley. Some of this is indeed due to the presence of Ocasek. His exacting production, anchored as much in pummeling arena rock as new wave pop, polishes and preserves Cuomo's quirks, but it's also true that Rivers has decided to indulge in his eccentricities once again. Take away the woolly mammoth-sized guitars and "Back to the Shack," with its overt references to "In the Garage," and Everything Will Be Alright in the End doesn't feel especially like early Weezer, not with the dexterous syncopation of "I've Had It Up to Here" providing a midpoint palate-cleanser and a neo-prog rock suite concluding the proceedings. By having the record follow these twisty detours, Cuomo provides a counterpoint to the classicist pop Weezer pursue elsewhere, but even such succinct, sculpted pop as "The British Are Coming," "Ain't Got Nobody," "Cleopatra," and "Go Away" (the latter a duet with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino) never feels like a desperate scramble back home. Rather, a feeling of acceptance underpins Everything Will Be Alright in the End: there's a sense that Weezer made another record of massive, hooky rock not only because that's what the fans want but because they know it's what they do best.
Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine