Weezer Weezer (The Red Album)(Geffen) Buy it from Insound
Weezer albums reveal their pleasures quickly or not at all, so this review was fairly easy to write. Basically, the Red Album is not as bad as you’ve heard nor as good as you might have hoped.
The big problem as I see it is that Rivers Cuomo, like most people, doesn’t have anything interesting to say, though he has cultivated an interesting way of saying it. When you come right down to it, even the best Weezer stuff is a string of one-liners set to arresting hooks. Maybe Pinkerton and a few of the early songs touched on something universal, but let’s face it, most of that was basically just the usual juvenile, solipsistic, angst bullshit that passes for deep these days. So if we found ourselves somewhere in El Scorcho, it was because we were whining bitches too, and how noble is that? Therefore, I’m not going to make the case for Cuomo’s genius based on anything he was singing about. The magic was in the hooks, and still is; whatever is left of it.
I’m also not going to pretend to be let down by Cuomo’s failing gift, since I wasn’t 16 when Undone came out, and never read all my hormonal tribulations into it. I’m not going to trash this album out of disappointment. As a disinterested party, I will tell you that Troublemaker is a fantastic song, about as good as Weezer ever gets; Pork and Beans is pretty damn good if standard Weezer single fare; The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived is a fun mishmash of styles whose novelty begins to wear after the 4th or 5th listen; Heart Songs is vapid, catchy schmaltz; Everybody Get Dangerous is a ridiculous waste of energy that you can dance to; and Dreamin’ is not half bad but goes on too long. The rest – who cares? I’m sorry, but Paul McCartney tried this song-sharing arrangement on Wings at the Speed of Sound, and while it netted him two hit singles and a kickass B-side (Beware My Love), it also resulted in a fairly shitty album. Kind of a mixed-bag really, which is what we have here. The album is frontloaded with Coumo’s best stuff and the other guys are relegated to the end, which hardly matters in the age of ipod shuffles and downloading. But you just know the sequencing was done with quality in mind. So if you’re in the mood to cherry pick here, my advice is the lower the song number the better.
And that about wraps it up. The Red Album is one of those that makes numerical scales arbitrary, so don’t pay much attention to my ranking. You can totally love a couple, or even a few songs off of it, and completely dismiss the rest. So are we to average our feelings out? No, just download the good stuff or buy the album and don’t expect much from Rivers because he never really gave you more than a few minutes of cheap thrills in the first place, which is plenty to thank him for.11 June, 2008 - 20:04 — Alan Shulman