Weezer Doesn’t Suck (but it’s complicated)

As outlined in this post I’ve spent the past month listening to all of Weezer’s discography in chronological order. There were a few times I got hung up on albums I liked and listened to them more than was needed (Hurley, Maladroit) instead of powering through everything like I should’ve and that makes the process longer. (It’s hard to force yourself to move from Maladroit when I the next album was Make Believe.) It also takes some time to really know and understand an album. For example The Red Album kinda sounds like shit at first but then it grows on you. I’m pretty sure it’s looked upon as a shitty album by most people but I ended up liking it more with each listen and appreciated what the band was trying to do. I’ll do a quick runthrough of all their albums because it sounds fun.

Weezer (The Blue Album)

All covers stolen from Wikipedia so yeah.

Untouchable. Classic. I’m not even going to say anything else. The Weezer album everything else aspires to be.

Pinkerton

The second untouchable classic, although I’ll elaborate a bit more. This album went for a more personal, vulnerable, and abrasive sound then their last album and was famously shit upon endlessly when it was released. In this album you could hear the band struggling with fame and Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s lead singer and songwriter, himself struggling with the spotlight, being seen as “a cool person,” and trying to mesh that with his personal view of himself being a loner, loser, geek who can’t find love anywhere. The dude sounds like he’s struggling with some stuff.

Pinkerton is also a legend because in retrospect critics seemed to find it a decent album after all. But this was after the damage was done and Weezer has famously never released an album as abrasive or personal as Pinkerton since. Some people think that Rivers was so fucking destroyed by opening up on the album and trying a new sound and having it all shit upon that he’d never make a deeply person record ever again. Maybe that’s true to some degree too…

Weezer (The Green Album)

This was the first “new” album I’ve heard and it is what you might expect it to be. It’s a solid album that is glossy and poppy and doesn’t take any real risks. You can’t fault the band because this was their first album after a hiatus so it serves as a safe return to form. Especially after Pinkerton got shit on it’s no surprise that Weezer played it really safe on this one. It’s decent but nothing spectacular.

Maladroit

I loved Maladroit because Weezer seemed to totally rock the fuck out on it. They got their “safe” album Green out of the way and you could tell they just jammed out on Maladroit. The sound more confident and relaxed here. I would get a smile on my face through many songs because the band just sounds like they’re having fun playing music. While some songs were kinda meh, I really liked Maladroit.

Make Believe

I didn’t have huge expectations for Make Believe and I wasn’t let down by being let down. This album was led by the famously bad “Beverly Hills” and, yeah, it fucking sucked. While there were a few good songs on here (like that one ballady song with the “woooaahh ooooooaaahhhh” chorus aka “Perfect Situation”) most were shitty. I also wasn’t in a good mood when I was listening to this album and the songs seemed to make my mood even worse. Every mediocre song I had to sit through was like nails on a chalkboard. A special shout-out to “We Are All on Drugs” for being especially terrible and the worst Weezer song I had heard up til that point. Yeah. It gets worse.

Weezer (The Red Album)

The Red Album luckily lead Weezer to do more experimentation instead of the blatant poppy and bland bullshit from the previous album. The other band members sing on the back half, the songs “feel” different, and there is that massively long song called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)” which is about the most unweezer Weezer has ever been. And I actually like most of it. I give the Red Album massive credit for the band not doing the same crap over again even if it doesn’t work out perfectly all the time. It takes risks. Popular opinion seems to be that The Red Album bonus tracks are stronger than the final half of the original album and had they been included initially the album would be one of their best.

The Red Album also has the worst album cover so far because it’s a fucking joke. While the album is a bit more experimental than everything else Weezer has done, the cover makes the whole thing look like it isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Cuomo has on a fucking cowboy hat and sports a mustache? Really?

Raditude

Raditude is shit and everyone knows it’s shit. I went into it trying to be open but totally expecting it to be shit. Once again I wasn’t let down. While it has some moments that are, uh, commendable from a creative standpoint (the song with the sitars) most everything else is garbage. Listening to it it almost sounds like an album someone in high school would like when their emotions are making them batshit insane and unstable. There’s songs about love and girls and that whole high school love and the whole thing has a manic depressive feel to it that reminds me of high school for some reason.

Raditude also has the worst Weezer song ever: “Can’t Stop Partying”. It sounds like a parody — yes a parody — of the Rebecca Black song “Friday”. Can’t stop partying, partying, partying. It’s Friday, friday, gotta get down on Friday. Yeah. Another special shoutout to the “I’m Your Daddy” song for just being really creepy and strange with the chorus singing “You are my baby tonight, and I’m your daddy.” Holy shit.

Oh wait, we can’t forget the cover. It’s a terrible album cover that features a dog. That’s it. At least the cover basically matches the album in terms of how shitty it is.

Hurley

I see Hurley as like Maladroit’s twin or cousin or something because they seem like they’re cut from the same fabric or something. They’re both albums that feature Weezer at their best making catchy, poppy-punkish music that is fun and jams out. Lately I’ve been appreciating Hurley a bit more than Maladroit as it seems much more consistent.

Once again Weezer drops the fucking ball hard with the album cover. I never watched the show but apparently the album Hurley features a picture of some dude named “Hurley” from the TV show Lost. While it sorta fits the albums “fun” nature by being a picture of an actor it really doesn’t make the best album cover. What does that cover make you think the music will be like? I really don’t know, it’s just a picture of a dude.

Everything Will Be All Right In The End

I tried listening to this when it originally came out but could never get into it. I didn’t think I was in the proper Weezer mindset at the time to really get into it. (I was in a heavy Animal Collective kick at the time and as you can guess that didn’t mesh well with Weezer.) On this album Weezer tries to get “back to their roots the shack” and does somewhat of a good job at it, but even better is that they start making good songs with some meaning behind them again. There’s a few meh songs on here but it’s a pretty solid album. The trajectory they’re on from Hurley to this album is promising. Another shout out to the album for 1. not being titled Weezer 2. not having the band on the cover 3. having an interesting cover and 4. having a cover that actually somewhat matches the music on the album.

The White Album

This album is beloved by Weezer fans and at first I didn’t really get it. Like it seemed like a solid album but didn’t seem like anything really special. But it does fucking grow on you. I’d say White’s best quality is that nearly all the songs are good and you don’t want to really skip anything. It really is Weezer doing what they do best: making good, catchy, pop-rock songs. It’s just a great, solid album to listen to.

Shout out to “Do You Want To Get High” for being the long-lost Pinkerton track because it sounds like it came right off that album. And it doesn’t sound like a fake “We did a Pinkerton song guys!” where they tried to make it sound like areal Pinkerton song and failed miserably. It has the genuine Pinkerton feel to it.

Pacific Daydream

Weezer apparently makes shitty album covers for great albums (aside from Maladroit) and great covers for shitty albums. This cover is amazing so you know what I think of this album. To be fair I didn’t give it much of a chance because it seemed pretty much hated by everyone but just picking a few random songs and letting them play gives disappointing results: it’s Weezer trying to be hip and cool again by making bland, what-you’d-expect-to-hear-on-the-radio-at-the-time songs that just have nothing special about them. After Hurley, Everything, and White a fan at the time couldn’t help but be sorely let down by the band. It’s like a Make Believe 2.0 or something but worse. Like they were doing so damn good for three albums straight and drop this turd on their fans.

The Teal Album

I was going to count this as a real album but naw. It’s just a cover album. The songs are decent and Weezer plays them nicely, but it’s a cover album. I’m assuming they found such success with their “Africa” cover that they churned out a full album of covers just because they could.

The Black Album

Okay. This is their newest one and I was excited to listen to a new Weezer album after my marathon of their discography but fuck was it a let down. I guess I know how true Weezer fans feel nearly anytime an album is released! I’m sorry guys. I feel really bad for you.

It starts off strong enough with “Can’t Knock the Hustle” and “Zombie Bastards” with the songs offering some nice and catchy music but which are kinda weak on the lyrics. “High as a Kite” is a masterpiece of a song and would be a welcome addition to a Weezer Greatest Hits album or whatever, but then the album just takes a shit. The songs sound decent, they’re catchy enough and you catch yourself singing the chorus nearly every time they come around, but there isn’t anything going on with the lyrics or any sort of song dynamics. It just drones on song after song until it ends.

The album closer “California Snow” seems like a polarizing song but I like the tone the song takes with its heavy synths and shit and to me it seems like a great closer song for a great album that isn’t the Black Album. Like if the entire album was in the style of “California Snow” Weezer would’ve made at the very least an interesting experimental album that would’ve been risky and at the most it might’ve even been fantastic. But the Black Album is mostly “meh”. I mean maybe it’s better than Pacific Daydream or Raditude but that isn’t really saying much is it?

Weezer in General…

Phew. I thought that’d be a bit quicker to go over but these guys did release something like 13 albums. It sure has been a hell of a journey listening to all of their stuff (and linking pictures of the album covers).

So to answer my initial question: does Weezer suck? No. Not by a long shot. I legit have like 4 or 5 Weezer albums (not counting the first two obviously) that I now love. Hurley, Maladroit, and White are on constant Spotify rotation currently with Red and Everything showing up if I’m in the mood. That’s like half their discography! But I will say they have the most inconsistent discography of nearly any band I’ve listened to. Most bands go on a long uphill run where each album gets better and better (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin) or go on a steady downhill run where their albums start to suck (Arcade Fire), but Weezer is all over the place. In my opinion they release some of their best and worst albums back to back somehow (Red-Raditude, Hurley-Raditude, White-Pacific Daydream, Maladroit-Make Believe). I can’t think of any other band that can pull that shit off as flawlessly as Weezer. It almost reminds me of the Star Trek movie series where the first one sucked, Wrath of Khan was good, the Spock movie was okay, The Whale Movie was great, etc.

Weezer also lacks a clear theme, direction, or trajectory with their albums over their career. For example you can tell that Arcade Fire started to get more into dance music and disco music from their past few albums and that this trend is increasing. Animal Collective (maybe a lesser-known example) started very experimental and noisy and became more poppy over the course of like four or five albums, and even Pink Floyd went from epic 15-20 minute jam session songs to heavier, more aggressive and shorter “rock” songs as time went on (think of Meddle to The Wall). The Beatles went from writing catchy, poppy songs (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”) to more experimental songs (“Happiness is a Warm Gun”) over their time as a band. These bands have momentum and direction and you can almost expect what you’re going to get from the next album –for better or for worse — while Weezer just jumps all over the place. Once again think of the poppy bullshit of Make Believe to the experimental Red. Also think of White as being a good Weezer album where Weezer is, well, good to Pacific where they make poppy bullshit music, to Black where they take on a more “electronic” feel. They’re all over the fucking place.

I will say that Weezer has never captured that genuine sincerity of their first two albums which is a huge disappointment. Cuomo goes from a really introspective, flawed, and aware person on the first two albums who all but disappears on the rest. The songs are still Weezer in that they sound like Weezer (most of the time) and have Weezer topics in the lyrics but that deeply personal perspective that is present on the first two only appears as a ghost for the rest of the albums. I don’t know what exactly happened but I’m certain this is why everyone is hoping and expecting another Pinkerton or Blue; they want that personal Weezer back that speaks to them and they don’t care much for the “Can’t Knock the Hustle” Weezer. I might be picking the obvious ones here but still, go check out “In The Garage” and “Beverly Hills.” Read the lyrics. These songs are from the same band, or not the same band depending on who you ask.

So does Weezer suck? No. But it’s also kinda complicated.

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