“Don’t wanna compromise my art for universal appeal / Don’t wanna be mass consumed, I’m not a happy meal”; so sings Rivers Cuomo in “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” one of the songs on Weezer’s latest release, Everything Will Be Alright in the End. It’s a bold statement, given how often accusations of selling out are levelled against the band.
In the ‘90s, Weezer released two albums which, at least retrospectively, are considered critical darlings – their self-titled debut with its brash, joyous power pop and Pinkerton’s memorably emotional tirades. But after a hiatus following the initial poor response to Pinkerton, their next release, a second self-titled album commonly called The Green Album, saw the band moving in a more conventional, less ambitious direction. They’ve made attempts to push their sound in new directions since then, but they’ve churned out a good deal of bland pop as well, and critical appraisal tends to place their first two albums head and shoulders above the rest, and many of their fans declared themselves betrayed.
Now, the band is making a deliberate attempt to win the favor of those original fans; Everything will be Alright in the End’s first single “Back to the Shack” promises there will be “rockin’ out like it’s ‘94,” a nod to the release year of their first album.
Our Take: 3/5
It’s an appropriate comparison, because the album, with its sunshine-infused sound and fluid songwriting, definitely recalls that brilliant debut. There’s definitely evidence that there’s been more thought and consideration gone into this work, with plenty of well-executed transitions and well-crafted songs. There’s hallmarks of Weezer all over, with plenty of catchy hooks (especially on the tracks “Eulogy for a Rock Band” and “I’ve Had It Up to Here”), a strong sense of melody, and punchy guitars that occasionally break out into memorable solos. The album as a whole has the feel of the upbeat ending of a teen movie, with a similar power to sweep you up and add a little positive feeling to your day if you’re willing to not think too hard.
There’s a definite air of youthfulness about the album – “The British Are Coming” sounds like it could be an elementary school interpretation of the Revolutionary War, were it not for the mild obscenity tossed at “those redcoats trying to run the show.” The lyrics tend to be clear and easily comprehensible with frequent use of careless slant rhymes. The subject matter of these lyrics is generally light, with the exception of “Foolish Father”, a song dealing with the subject of forgiveness and a broken relationship between a daughter and her father. Even here, though, there’s an irrepressible energy which always pulls the music up, showing Weezer to be a band more concerned with uplifting than reflecting, a fact which is put on bold display in the exorbitant three-part closer collectively called “The Futurescope Trilogy.”
Ultimately, the album’s major problem is its familiarity – there’s a definite feeling of repetitiveness listening through the whole thing, and, on a larger scale, it’s not a record that strikes out too far from familiar Weezer territory. But while it imitates the band’s debut without reaching the same heights, it’s still a welcome step back towards that same level of quality.