The nerdiest band in pop/rock history might be trying to recreate their image with "California Kids".
Emmanuel Elone: The nerdiest band in pop-rock history might be trying to recreate their image with "California Kids". The drums are crystal clear, the riffs are just light enough for casual music listeners to enjoy it, and Rivers Cuomo pulls out yet another earworm chorus that we all know him for. Even though Weezer might be going through a rebranding phase right now, they don't get out of their comfort zone enough to make me completely enthralled with "California Kids", though it is a pretty good song from them. In fact, it's a good enough track to make me forgive Weezer for the cringe-worthy "Damn Daniel" reference at the end of the music video, which really says a lot about how enjoyable "California Kids" must be. [7/10]
Jared Skinner: Though it seems like we've already heard the whole album before its release, Weezer's recent single treats fans to a singalong escape from the dreary nine-to-five. Filled with comedy, an appearance of a popular meme, and a whole lot of cannolis, "California Kids" is a feel good track that ultimately feels quite pandering. [4/10]
Pryor Stroud: The whirlwind rise and fall of Weezer has become something of a pop culture folktale passed around by those steeped in the CD-shop mythology of '90s alternative rock. Emerging as one of the foremost purveyors of post-grunge power-rock, Rivers Cuomo and company then stumbled into the mainstream, overambitious and underprepared, coming out on the other side with a couple lackluster wannabe-comeback records and their reputation markedly damaged. But still, when they release new material, it is not assessed as the output of a band with nothing to lose; every record and single they produce is invariably compared to their mid-'90s, geek-rock zenith. It should be no surprise then that "California Kids", the latest cut from the White Album, won't be spared the comparison either. But, for once, this isn't necessarily a bad thing: the Pixies-indebted verse-chorus dynamic shifts are here in full force, with the chorus a particularly affecting thrash-guitar eruption, and the shredded-heart melody is one of Cuomo's latter-day best. "It's gonna be alright / If you're on a sinking ship," he affirms, disinterring the West Coast optimism that defined earlier efforts like the euphoric "Island in the Sun", but now more seems at stake: the "golden sea" that surrounds this "Island" has darkened with a coming storm, casting a shadow over the runaway lovers who have become accustomed to perpetual sunlight. Fortunately, though, Weezer's effervescent melodics suggest that this storm will be short-lived -- the island, it seems, will have its sun returned by the track's end. [8/10]
Chris Ingalls: Everything Weezer did after Pinkerton (now closing in on 20 years ago, feel old yet?) gets plenty of flak for not being Pinkerton or the Blue Album. The truth is, every Weezer album has at least a couple of redeeming moments. "California Kids" sees the band in safe, guitar-crunch power-pop mode. It's well-written pop tune, something that would fit nicely on any of their previous albums. Not edgy by any means, but a reminder that Rivers can still write a hook with the best of them (although this song was apparently co-written by that guy from Semisonic, which reminds me that Rivers needs to stop farming out co-songwriting assignments, but I digress). [7/10]
Chad Miller: The verses are probably the best sounding parts of this song. The chorus is slightly catchy but overall pretty unremarkable, nor does it seem to really fit the sound that the verse sets. I did like the short guitar outro however. [6/10]