Once upon a time, there was a fresh-faced garage rock band whose lyrics and power pop chords captivated America’s young and angsty. Their self-titled debut album, “Weezer (The Blue Album),” was released in 1994, and graced Rolling Stone magazine’s “Greatest 500 Albums of All Time.” Flash forward to fourteen years later, and the band is still using the same formula for their sixth studio LP, entitled “The Red Album.” Sadly, however, what once was genius is now only satisfactory.
Singles “Pork and Beans” and “Dreamin” are good, but they’re no “Perfect Situation” (from their 2005 “Make Believe”). Sometimes Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s lead singer/songwriter, gets a little too cheesy: “Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the chart/ Maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art,” he sings on “Pork and Beans.” Quite honestly, Cuomo can do much better than that. And he does on the next track.
“Heart Songs” is extremely well done. Here, he pays homage to the artists that influenced him growing up: “Quiet Riot got me started with the banging of my head/ Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Slayer taught me how to shred,” he sings with his characteristic longing. The percussive synth effects at the end of the chorus are a nice touch as well.
“Cold Dark World” features a resentfulness not seen much on the rest of the album. “I know/That you’re thinkin’/ I’m trying to score/ But deep in your heart/ You know that I’m more,” an emotional Cuomo growls, in an attempt to convince his love. “Miss Sweeny,” a bonus track with a Tenacious D vibe, is better than most of the songs on the album.
Weezer has always put out short albums, focusing their energy on producing a few quality tracks. At forty minutes long, however, “The Red Album” is the second longest Weezer album to date, behind their last effort, “Make Believe.” Several tracks run on far too long, easily topping five minutes. I may sound overly harsh, but “The Red Album” has neither the deep lyrics nor catchy melodies of their earlier efforts. Their last album was better. Weezer isn’t totally outdated yet, however, as evidenced by “Pork and Beans” and “Heart Songs,” but if they don’t change something soon, they will be.
-Robert Burns, II
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