Having six self-titled albums is bold and ambitious for any artist, not even KORN can compete with that! But, let’s break it down…going as far back as 1994 we’ve gone through everything from blue, to green, red, white, teal and now black…either Rivers Cuomo is trying to assemble his own league of fucking Power Rangers or he’s been on the Skittles again! Fuck the rainbow Rivers, focus on the music! I digress…with this, the “Black Album”, have they gone heavier; darker? Have they channelled their inner METALLICA to let rip and deliver an album soaked in the maelstrom of metal misery? Well the answer is, not quite…let me explain…
Opening track “Can’t Stop The Hustle” has an almost Hispanic tone to it combined with brass elements and an almost 70’s funk charm, and it speaks of a general down to Earth, working class lifestyle…lyrics about managers slacking, selling lemonade, higher education and avoiding drugs; it’s a bit of a jab at the idea of the modern celebrity and the idea of instant fame and success. It’s all about the work ethic which is something Weezer have put in for nearly 30 years now, never compromising, always true to themselves…admirable in context but it’s a somewhat flat opener musically. “Zombie Bastards” follows up and sonically it’s a bit of an oxymoron as there’s nothing threatening about this at all. Amidst it’s jovial indie-pop tones it speaks of society and normality; everyone conditioned to a certain way of life, a bland existence if you will and the song challenges the idea of that; suggesting you dig a little deeper, there’s more to life than this, there’s more to life than being a brainwashed zombie, and it’s both a dig AND encouraging.
Elsewhere the album more or less maintains a calm, easy listening vibe over the remaining eight tracks…”High As A Kite” takes on a soft, JOHN LENNON / THE BEATLES vibe, and it’s touching as it mentions drifting off like lost balloons, flying like a beautiful bird over a piano led ballad; the idea of freedom and escaping society and the pressures of everyday life; it’s a sweet song backed by a sweeter Mr Rogers inspired video. Album highlight’s “I’m Just Being Honest” and “Too Many Thoughts In My Head” stand out with their up-beat delivery…the former again utilising infectious indie-pop tones and a simple hook, while the latter is again, up-beat and makes the most of Rivers impressive high notes, in places coming across not too unlike BRONSKI BEAT toward the tracks climax, if only briefly. While not intense, the track ends in an enjoyable crescendo and it’s a pleasant listen overall.
The remainder of the record as I said more or less delivers in a similar fashion…”Piece Of Cake” is pretty straight forward with it’s sweet, laid back delivery, “The Prince Who Wanted Everything” does undertake a more 70’s inspired glam-rock aesthetic not unlike T-REX for example, before closing track “California Snow” runs the clock down with some primarily lethargic and repetitive soft rock. Ultimately I think that this album is a bit of a rib on today’s market and industry generally…the very idea of a ‘Black Album’ conjures up the idea of heaviness, as I mentioned Metallica previously, we’re inclined to think that way; we expect a darkness, a deep resonance accompanying the weight of the music, but Weezer here have trolled us all as it’s one of the softest sounding albums they could have delivered. The song writing and story-telling has clear depth, but we were expecting something much meatier, and the band KNEW this. I’m not knocking it for its lack of heaviness, or grit, but credit to Weezer they played me here and still managed to make me bob my head to the majority of this album. IS IT as good as the covers album from January? No, because of the quality choice of songs they covered, but this is a decent little happy-go-lucky record. Still after all these years you really can’t knock Weezer’s hustle…