Flying in the face of reports to the contrary, Weezer are back – and in typically unfussy style the band’s sixth album is also their third self-titled, completing a set of primary coloured record covers.
So is ‘Red’ as bold as its colour choice suggests? For the band it’s a yes, as for the first time they include songwriting contributions from all four members of the band, which, together with two bonus cover versions, comprise the album’s second half.
And if that implies the collaborative efforts are relegated down the order that’s happily not the case – they in fact offer a logical alternative to the songwriting enigma that is Rivers Cuomo.
It’s hard to resist any of his songs here. That even goes for the eyewatering The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, a set of variations on a traditional Shaker hymn that moves from slacker rock to falsetto and piano to an uplifting choral setting in the blink of an eye. It’s the band’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and a mini masterpiece at that.
Elsewhere we find Cuomo in a good mood, bigging up himself with wildly exaggerated bragging. The punchy, two-fingered salute of Troublemaker ensures the album hits the ground running, noting with tongue firmly in cheek, “I’ll party by myself cos I’m such a special guy”. Dreamin’ is pure doors-wide-open happiness, while Everybody Get Dangerous enjoys its send-up of Red Hot Chili funk. And in Heart Songs, the band have a blissful reverie to rival the Green Album’s Island In The Sun.
Inevitably the new songwriters fall under the spotlight, but they hold up well. Thought I Knew begins as a confessional but finds real depth as it progresses, thanks to guitarist Brian Bell. Pat Wilson‘s contribution is the loping Automatic, while Cold Dark World, a collaboration between Rivers and bassist Scott Shriner, opens up with spacey synthesizers.
Rivers remains the star, then, but the seeds are sown as the band move into a new phase of their musical development. The Red Album brings forward everything they do best, with hooks aplenty, emotive and funny lyrics, all washed down with the odd frisson of self doubt. It’s a potent mix, and keeps them a step ahead once again.