For many, Weezer’s last outing, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, marked something of a return to form for the band. While their ninth effort was not quite up there with their hugely influential and critically-acclaimed first two records – The Blue Album and Pinkerton – it demonstrated that Rivers Cuomo and co had not completely lost the infectious spark that saw them make such an impact in the mid-’90s.
The record continued an upward trajectory that had first been initiated by 2010’s Hurley, which followed a series of releases from Weezer that had fallen well below expectations, culminating in the failed experiment of Raditude. Although their output in the 2000s was not all bad – 2001’s The Green Album was a worthy follow up to Pinkerton – with each new record came more indifference and critical backlash.
However, Everything Will Be Alright In The End bucked the trend and went someway towards rediscovering the spirit of the band’s earlier material. As such, it is not surprising to find that their 10th studio LP is dedicated to exploring the Weezer of old further. Discussing what he wanted to achieve on the band’s latest self-titled effort, known as The White Album, producer Jake Sinclair said he wanted to “return Weezer to their ’90s glory”.
As promising as that sounded – Sinclair also stated that the aim was to cross the “brashness and unpredictability” of Pinkerton with the “summer Beach Boys” vibe of The Blue Album – there is an inherent risk in reverting to type. Yet any fears about the record being simply a rehash of their earlier material are quickly dispelled by opener California Kids, which is everything a Weezer song should be.
The faint sound of lapping waves and seagulls quickly give way to a driving riff, before the song bursts into life with a crunching, infectious chorus as Cuomo belts out: “It’s going to be alright/ if you’re on a sinking ship/ the California kids/ will throw you a lifeline.” It is unmistakably Weezer and kicks off a collection of songs that, while clearly indebted to the the band’s origins, sounds fresh and energetic.
This is not the record of a band just going through the motions, as evidenced by the joyful Wind In Our Sail, which captures the carefree, West Coast atmosphere that is prevalent throughout The White Album. It features a jaunty piano melody that is irresistibly catchy, providing the perfect companion to another triumphant sing-a-long chorus, while Summer Elaine And Drunk Dori is Weezer at their punchy, pop rock best.
Elsewhere, Do You Wana Get High? is reminiscent of Pinkerton-era Weezer, with a trademark chugging guitar riff and Cuomo’s brilliantly oddball lyrics (“We can listen to Bacharach and stop at any point”). Yet it is nothing compared to the triumphant LA Girlz, which is arguably the highlight of the record thanks to its huge hook and bold chorus. The shackles are completely off as Cuomo, somewhat ironically, sings “please act your age”.
For all of its merits, Weezer’s fourth self-titled album does hit the odd stumbling block. Thank God For Girls doesn’t quite stick the landing despite Cuomo delivering the lyrics in an interesting stream-of-conscious style rap, while Jacked Up feels out of place because of its freakishly high-pitched chorus. Closer Endless Bummer does ensure the album ends on a high, though, as its understated acoustic riff transforms into an electrifying guitar solo for a memorable climax.
Despite wavering towards the second half, there is no doubt that this is Weezer’s best album in years. It continues the fine tradition of their colourful self-titled LPs and feels like the start of a new chapter for the band. The Blue Album and Pinkerton may still set the benchmark by which any new Weezer release is judged, but The White Album is further proof that there is still life in the old dog yet.