WEEZER “Red Album” (Geffen)
I once commented that Weezer has not made a bad album. Yet.
Not that the spanking new sixth (third eponymous) album by Cuomo and company is a poor one. What it is – unfortunately – is uneven and inconsistent, not terms one usually associates with Weezer.
Perhaps this disappointing quality has more to do with Cuomo’s decision to grant his band mates a greater say in the make up of the material here. In fact, the second half of this so-called Red album features guitarist Brian Bell, drummer Pat Wilson and bassist Scott Shriner on lead vocals. Also, Bell and Wilson wrote Thought I Knew and Automatic respectively whilst Shriner receives a co-writing credit on Cold Dark World.
I’m not entirely convinced that these collaborations necessarily resulted in this dip in form for Weezer or whether Cuomo himself has become jaded of the Weezer concept.
Still, the first half of the album contains a couple of tracks that live up comfortably to the Weezer legacy and the album does go a little pear-shaped once Dreamin’ makes its appearance. So let’s concentrate on those 1st five songs, shall we?
Troublemaker opens the collection promisingly with its sharp rhythms, incisive chorus and investigative profile of the typical rock star –
“I’m gonna be a star and people will crane necks to get a glimpse of me and see if I am having sex and studying my moves they try to understand why I am so unlike the singers in the other bands”
The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) is what you might call mildly experimental seeing as it jumps from rap to gospel to to acapella to pop-rock in the course of its almost six-minute duration. Combined with a knowing, tongue-in-cheek lyrical intent, Greatest Man is certainly one of Weezer’s more intriguing songs.
Pork and Beans is basically Cuomo’s reaction to being instructed by his record label to write more commercial material for the new album as the cynical chorus declares –
“I’m-a-do the things that i wanna do/I ain’t got a thing to prove to you/I’ll eat my candy with the pork and beans/Excuse my manners if i make a scene/I ain’t gonna wear the clothes that you like/I’m fine and dandy with the me inside/One look in the mirror and I’m tickled pink/I don’t give a hoot about what you think”
Ironically, the suits may have gotten exactly what they wanted!
Heart Songs is possibly the highlight of the album – a sentimental mid tempo paean to Cuomo’s influences as he namechecks John Lennon, Pat Bentar, Quiet Riot, Bruce Springsteen and Gordon Lightfoot. But Cuomo dedicates an entire verse to the band that kick-started Weezer’s career –
“Back in 1991 I wasn’t havin’ any fun/’Till my roommate said ‘Come on and put a brand new record on’/Had a baby on it/He was naked on it/Then I heard the chords/That broke the chains I had upon me/Got together with my bros in some rehearsal studios/Then we played our first rock show and watched the fan base start to grow/Signed the deal that gave the dough to make a record of our own/The song come on the radio/Now people go – this is the song”
No prizes for guessing who Cuomo is referring to…
Everybody Get Dangerous is a catchy little number about teenage rebellion – possibly based on Cuomo’s own life experiences. I expect it will go down well with the Weezer Army live!
Well, that’s all I really want to say about the “Red” album – a great half of a middling album is better than none, eh? Where does Weezer go from here – well, rumor has it that an album is being readied for 2009 even now. Wait and see I guess, until then –
“Everybody get dangerous/Everybody get dangerous (Boo-ya!)”