PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Weezer: Weezer

Mainstream rock alterna-gods keep us scratching our aging heads.



Subtitle: The Red Album
Label: Geffen
US Release Date: 2008-06-03
UK Release Date: 2008-06-16

I'm going to give this album the benefit of the doubt.

You see, as I was listening to Weezer's latest self-titled effort the other day (the third of six to bear the band's name in leiu of other words, once again forcing humanity to abide by unnecessary color coding), it dawned on me that everything this group has ever done has initially seemed like a bad joke. I remember the first time I heard "Undone (The Sweater Song)" clear as day in the year of our Lord 1994.

"This seems like a bad joke," I thought.

I'm not trying to be glib or funny -- that's literally what I thought. "If you want to destroy my sweater?" The video with the drummer thrusting his pelvis and all those dogs? It couldn't be real. Then, I heard the album. After four or five listens, it started to make sense.

Flash forward a couple of years. "El Scorcho" comes on the radio one stormy afternoon. Gargling noises, a herky jerky rhythm, Green Day references, Rivers Cuomo's pained falsetto... it sounded like an old practice tape from my fledgling high school rock group the Commodes (only with much higher production values). Again, it took a few gos, but eventually the jarring Pinkerton single worked its way into normalcy.

So it was with every future move Weezer made, from "Hash Pipe" to the addition of heavy metal flunkie bassist Scott Shriner to that video they made with the Muppets. I suppose you could say they're slightly ahead of the curve, co-opting whatever stupid they can find and rebirthing it as cool (that's certainly what they did with "Happy Days" in the video for "Buddy Holly"). Maybe Weezer's just lucky the music world is often so pompous and serious that their shenanigans are usually accepted as a breath of fresh air.

Whatever the case, as I continued listening to Red this week, staring at what looks like a reunion of "To Catch a Predator" suspects on the front cover, I started to like it more and more. The strange, Beck-esque lyrics of "Troublemaker" ("Marryin' a b'yotch / Havin' seven k'yods"); the pretentious Queen stab "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)"; the asinine pile of acoustic goo called "Heart Songs" -- all dubious, but all boasting enough of that patented Weezer introverted grunge pop sound to ingratiate themselves to the listener.

Heck, even rhthym guitarist Brian Bell's gruff late '90s beach jam throwback "Thought I Knew" is weaseling its way into my sick blood-pumper (although I can see why they kept him away from the mic for so long; this tune is about as close to Weezer as "Cop Killer" is to Donnie Osmond).

There is one moment on The Red Album that is unquestionably vintage Weez. I speak of "Pork and Beans", the song that's been burning up the YouTube for weeks now with its cutesy, "Hey, these are all people from the Internet, LOL" video. Rivers and Co. dust off the old tried-and-true quiet verse/loud chorus formatting chestnut for this one, lacing it with irresistable hooks and empowering lyrics ("I'ma do the things that I wanna do / I ain't got a thing to prove to you"). The result is the best geek anthem this side of whatever MC Chris' last hit was.

The rest of the album may try men's souls, but if you ask me the verdict's still out. It certainly has a high replayability factor (Cuomo's rap about stardom near the end of "Greatest Man" must be heard several times before it is believed). It certainly will be one of the most talked about records of the year. Kudos must at least be given for not turning in an album of 12 "Dope Noses" or "Beverly Hillses". That would have been too easy, and I'm starting to realize easy is not what Weezer's all about.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.