First, here's Chris Flood's review:
"The Green Album"
To hate this album would be trendy. The love it would be trendy.
This album... is trendy.
The Long of it...
Weezer's first official release of original material in 5 years leaves much to be
desired, but also satisfies the soul. It is really hard to take this album as an
individual piece, separate from its brothers. Many a weezer fan has expected a new
album that sounds like a mix of the sonic smoothy Weezer 1 and the harsh progressive
rock of Pinkerton. In a peculiar way, this album does deliver that blend, although
not without the definte stylings of Ric Ocasek. His efforts give the album a sound
much more similar to Weezer 1 than Cuomo's own effort on Pinkerton. The music,
however, leans more towards the "Falling For You" sound off Pinkerton. The effect of
production is erhaps best described as what you would get if you stuck "No One
Else" onto Pinkerton, and "Falling For You" on Weezer 1.
From start to finish, Weezer 2 incorporates classic Weezer moments with 80's
retro and 50's pop moves. In some ways the album is remniscient of early Nirvana
as well as stoner classic's like Jimmy Buffet, or moonlighting barbershop quartets.
Instead of backing the music with powerful vocals, the music funtions as a somewhat
underwhelming backup. These sonic stylings give a feeling of a throw back, or a
regression of style. On the contrary, Weezer (or should I say Rivers) has
successfully generated another reinvention of sing-song emo-pop. This album, despite
its distinctively Weezeresque style, has to be regarded on its own and divided from
Weezer 1 and Pinkerton.
Blue, Pink, and Green (wait, do I see trend?) on the whole provide a trilogy for
Weezer, each with it's own tale. Weezer 1 describes a hurting young lad lost adrift
thanks to parents, beer, girls, and himself. Pinkerton similarly tells its story
with it's rock opera revamping of Madame Btterfly. Mixed with personal allegory,
Pinkerton represents Weezer's best artistic effort yet. Weezer 2 echoes blue in it's
less ideologically based structure. There does seem to be a story, but not of the
same hurting young lad. Instead we get the post "Good Life" rocking old man finding
himself. In certain respects, the songs present a more mature songwriter who isn't
afraid to simply state "I wanna do you" ("O Lisa" - non album). However, one can't
be sure this is a good thing.
Perhaps the most major flaw of this album is the singing. It sounds like each
day Rivers woke up without a particular interest in singing that day. He sounds
tired, and seems to glide the words out without the slightest hint of effort. This
does give tribute to Rivers' excellent vocal capacity, but given the power of
Pinkerton, and Weezer 1 tracks such as "Holiday" with its staggering vocal dynamics,
one is left feeling underwhelmed. The closest Rivers comes to sounding excited while
singing, or emotional at all about what he is saying, is in the "The World has
Turned..." throwback section of "Simple Pages" and the mournfully droning cry of "O
Girlfriend." There are exceptions, such as the nice backup done by Brian in "Island
in the Sun's" chrous, but in general the vocal power is lack lustre.
Similar to the lacking vocal strength is the guitar work. The first and second
albums featured well developed solo's. Weezer 1's solo's echoed the vocal line, then
without fail transformed into pentatonic mayhem. Pinkerton's solo's were highly
innovative, most prominently "Tired of Sex" and "The Good Life." Weezer 2 simply
features guitar renditions of the vocal track, with the exception of "Hash Pipe" and
it's simple scale decending octaves. "Crab" also features a stronger solo,
definately being the strongest solo of the album. For the guitar entusiast, this
album really doesn't deliver. Mikey Welsh offers an impressively tight bass
element, but offers lttle personal flair to the overall sound of the songs, mostly just
backing the guitar part, and rarely walking between chords. His delivery is
flawless, however, and does offer a nice element of depth to the already thick
sound of the entire album.
The most delightful element of the album is Pat Wilson's contribution in the
background. Notoriously simple drum beats gave Weezer their definitive sound,
practically trademarking the 4 bar bass drum/floor tom/crash cymbal simul-bashing.
Despite the fact virtually ever track on this album opens with the same percussion
intro, through the rest of each song Wilson delivers a much more laid back and
generally funky set of beats. There is a definite shuffle to the beat, and one
almost can't help air drumming along.
For the educated listener, Weezer 2 is not an exceptionally original effort.
It does offer some very nice progressions with interesting twists and turns
through the songs. Rivers' integration of various styles from several decades of
pop, plus the occaisional Japanese sounding harmonization - which really was
pioneered by self-professed Weezer-wannabe's, Ozma - gives this album it's own
flavour. Any effort to imitate the sound of this album will definately not be easy
to swallow, most likely being credited as a direct rip off.
The Short of it...
This entire album is composed of song's you could swear you've heard someplace
before. This is part of it's appeal, but also part of it's incredibly underwhelming
first impression. In typical Weezer fashion, you can hum along, whistle, tap your
feet, and bop around to this music. How much feeling you put into those actions
seems to depend entirely on your volume switch. If you crank it, the effect of the
faster songs like 'Don't Let Go" and "Hash Pipe" is amplified in equal ratio. For
the more emotional tracks like "Island in the Sun" and "O Girlfriend" added volume
gives added power. Overall, this album leaves me wanting for more, despite the fact
I can't help singing along. I'm not sure what the weakest point of the album is, or
the strongest. Overall, of out of eleven, this five-year-in-the-making effort gets
a low six.
and here's my take:
As a huge weezer fan, it's hard to step outside of myself to review the new album. Objectivity, in any opinion piece is probably downright impossible however…this is what I think….
The last time we left Rivers Cuomo, he had poured out his soul in the under-rated and excellent Pinkerton (1996). The album had a sense of importance, energy and anger. Cuomo admitted this year, he may have bared too much of himself in the process. It was a departure from the up-beat self titled first album, but held on to the distinctive Weezer sound. After almost five years of waiting, Weezer is back, and has taken yet, again another departure.
The new album is a departure to the past. It echoes the blue album even in the title (self-titled once again) and on the album cover (the band standing in front of a colored screen). It's as if the band is saying, "Hey, remember our first album, this is going to be just like it". However, that isn't entirely the case. As with each album, the Green album (as it will almost be certainly known as) has its own vibe, feel and sound. Like practically all Weezer songs, you can't beat some of these tunes out of your head. Guitarist Brian Bell said it best, when he said the last song you hear is the song you get stuck in your head. This isn't necessarily so the first time around, but it grows on you with each listen. The starting track "Don’t Let Go" is a great starter and is undeniably catchy. And while Cuomo has said the new lyrics "suck", the sentiments such as "with a kiss in the air/for the god's to receive" are sweet and different. While on "Photograph" Weezer echoes the Cars, on "Hashpipe", they have an early grunge (but polished) sound. "Hashpipe", the fist single, is a hard rock number but really is a novelty song that doesn’t represent the "Weezer sound" well.
On "Island in the Sun", I can't help but hear a Caribbean feel to the song, and maybe this was implanted by the cmj article, but the song is very "dreamy". Even with the typical "let's go away for awhile" message, it's still a great song. Another highlight includes "Simple Pages" that has beautiful ending and the most heartfelt singing of the album. The mid-term tracks of "Crab" and "Knock-down Drag-Out" are on first listen, quite forgettable, but upon further tries get stuck in your head just as much as any other songs.
There are no perfect rock songs like that of "Say it anit So". There aren't any lyrics that are as personal and beautiful as "Across the Sea" or "Butterfly". What is here are some great pop-rock songs. The value of that, is determined by the listener. The meaning of these songs will depend on the listener. The Green album can be seen as the true "follow-up" to the blue album. It's hard for fans to separate what the new album is, and what *they* thought the new album should be. As someone who waited five years, as well, I understand that. What shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle is what is actually here. This album is not the most important album, but it is still enjoyable and fun. While Cuomo may have taken a step back in the direction of the first album, what is more remarkable, is that Weezer are still steps ahead of most bands.
Three stars out of Four.