Music

Weezer: Weezer

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


Weezer

Weezer

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

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.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image