Monday, June 16, 2008

Weezer - Weezer

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Or the "Red Album" if you're losing track as this is the third self-titled Weezer album out of six. It's also the first since the debut (the Blue Album for those keeping track) to see Rivers Cuomo slightly loosen his autocratic leading of the band to let his bandmates show us their own songwriting chops.

Things didn't seem all that promising at first; not only were there rumours that this album was to see a highly experimental Weezer but record label Geffen were apparently of the opinion that the album didn't have any hits on it. The result was Pork and Beans, the album's lead single and one written entirely as a sly knock to the label's opinions. "Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts" sneers Cuomo, "maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art". Ironically, of course, it turned out to be Weezer's biggest American hit in years.

Long-term Weezer fans are certainly catered for here; alongside Pork and Beans the likes of Troublemaker

That said, there are definite departures from what you might expect. Heartsongs, which sees Cuomo list the songs and artists that have shaped his musical identity may eventually "rock out" but it's lilting and saccharine sounds take some getting used to. Nothing I write could amply explain The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn) to you but if you imagine six minutes of sonic eccentricity that takes in such different musical styles as metal, hip-hop, male voice choir, folk and glam rock then you get some idea of the huge scale we're talking about. More amazingly, it's a catchy track too.

Of the band members contributions, I Thought I Knew is passable, but nowhere near becoming a Weezer classic, Cold Dark World is plodding and only drummer Patrick Wilson's Automatic comes close to matching the best of what Cuomo can deliver.

Naturally, the "Red Album" is no Pinkerton (still Weezer's finest collective moment for me) but, to put it into perspective, it's nowhere near the disappointment that was Maladroit. It might not convert to many new listeners to Weezer, but those of us that have been with them for over a decade will find much to enjoy on this fine collection.

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