Tuesday, March By: John Campbell
Weezer, the American Rock Band hailing from Los Angeles has had a wide spanning and diverse career over the 2000s. They’ve had their ups and downs over the years but have produced a lot of music. As of March 1st, 2019, they’ve released their 6th self-titled studio album, this time going with the color black. Is Weezer overstaying their welcome with this barrage of albums, and are they even worth lending an ear to? I personally think you won’t be missing out on much by passing this album over.
Right out of the gate, Weezer holds onto its need to evolve with pop and electronic elements. As a rock band, I can see why they feel the need to push for a more modern sound, but I don’t think they’re cut out to do this. All of the songs on this record suffer from overproduction. Every part has excellent clarity. Which is really good until you realize there’s more parts that you can even listen to. Sounds intermittently fade in and leave to never be heard again, and if you weren’t listening for it, you won’t even realize what it was. It just doesn’t add anything to the songs. The pop and electronic elements are often overblown and mishandled. In the track “Zombie Bastards” you get this Twenty One Pilots resembling, poppy sound that ends up coming off as bland. There’s also this noise underneath the instruments that just sounds like noise. I can’t really identify what it is or what it adds, but it just sounds kind of irritating.
In “Living In L.A.” you have another overproduced pop song that just ends up being lukewarm and forgettable which is a shame. Other songs like “High As A Kite” or “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” work with the rock sound that Weezer was critically acclaimed for. They soften up the rock and add these melodic elements that make the song engaging. In “High As A Kite”, there’s a lot of melodies coming out of the instruments in the mix, and despite overproduction, they tend to charm me. “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” came off sounding like Red Hot Chili Peppers circa. 2006 with its melodic guitar and wah pedal. The hook and rock elements were good here, and it would have made the entire album much better if they followed this road. “I’m Just Being Honest” was truthfully my favorite. It’s a song that doesn’t take itself seriously and comes off funny, citing brutal honesty in relationships. The indie elements made it shine in a way the rest of the album never saw again.
The root of the problem with Weezer evolving its sound to keep up with contemporary music is that they had a good thing going with their rock roots and adding these pop and indie elements to it really drag it down. In their more rock-oriented tracks like “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” and “I’m Just Being Honest” the sound is genuinely pleasant. In others like “Living InL.A.” or “Can’t Knock The Hustle” the reliance on pop elements drag the soul of this band through the muck, cutting and scraping it. There’s even this clapping sequence in a few of the songs that just comes off so generic and trite. I don’t hate pop or electronic music by any stretch, but Weezer seems completely incapable of incorporating it.
Their rock sound always dominates the track whenever it is present, but when they go for something more contemporary or different it just falls flat on its face. Maybe it’s the production that kills these ideas or the over-reliance on effects, but either way, it tells me that Weezer should stick to their rock ideas because I honestly think they’re the best part of this record. It was quite a shock to me to hear how much they’ve changed over the years, and in some parts of this record I felt they didn’t even sound like Los Angeles’ top Weezer cover band. There’s nothing wrong with changing your sound and trying to evolve over time, but Weezer could benefit from trying to implement modern ideas to their classic sound because it worked. It wasn’t bland, or uninspired and this record could stand to learn a thing or two from that.
The Weezer Black Album isn’t the worst album in the world, and has a couple enjoyable points, but I honestly believe that the ideas that this record was built on were too spread out all over the place. Weezer is a rock band, and that shows through in this record whenever they try to branch into pop, because their sound suffers from a clash of ideas. Perhaps it would have been better to keep the stronger tracks and release them as an EP.
Favorite Tracks: I’m Just Being Honest, Too Many Thoughts In My Head, High As A Kite
Least Favorite Tracks: Living In L.A., Piece Of Cake, Zombie Bastards, California Snow, Can’t Knock The Hustle