Weezer true to character but forgettable

Photo by Casey Gomez

On Oct. 27, Weezer released “Pacific Daydream,” the band’s first album in a little over a year and a half. The album has its strengths and its weaknesses, but fans need not worry; ultimately, “Pacific Daydream” is as Weezer as Weezer gets.

The style of their music certainly is not what it was in 1994, but every artist should evolve over time. What is important is that all of the key elements that make music Weezer music are present: nerdy weirdness, musical variety and — most important of all — a defiant refusal to do what is considered cool.

Of course, the album needed a few radio-friendly singles to round things out, so frontman Rivers Cuomo penned “Mexican Fender” and “Feels Like Summer,” easily digestible pop songs with catchy choruses and intros.

Still, even these seemingly hollow offerings have veins of Weezer weirdness in them. In “Mexican Fender,” Cuomo recounts his nerdy romantic encounter with another band’s lead singer who also dabbles in physics and computer programming. While “Feels Like Summer” is a simple, fast-moving pop song, its structure is just unique enough to make it feel like a Weezer track.

Moving into the body of the album, more geekiness and peculiarity can be found. In “QB Blitz,” Cuomo compares his isolation to the icy planet Hoth from the “Star Wars” franchise.

Then there is “La Mancha Screwjob,” a song about Cuomo’s betrayal of and subsequent feelings of guilt towards a former songwriting partner.

While the content of the song is fairly straightforward, its title could be a reference to the novel “Don Quixote,” a famous professional wrestling incident or — and perhaps most likely — a Radiolab podcast of the same name that discusses the relationship between the two.

In “Weekend Woman,” Cuomo alludes to The Zombies’ 1960s hit “Time of the Season.” Additionally, the frontman includes “Beach Boys” on the album as a tribute to one of the band’s most significant musical influences.

None of these thoroughly uncool quirks may appeal to modern conventional pop fans, who commercially-minded artists are constantly looking to capture. A typical commercial pop band would never release this album, so even the existence of
“Pacific Daydream” fits the quintessentially Weezer divergence from the norm.

Throughout the album, Cuomo makes it obvious that he did not write his music to cater to an audience. He refused to be cool or predictable, as has always been
his trademark.

Still, Cuomo works so hard to write Weezer music for Weezer fans that he is essentially writing for an audience, if not a traditional or mainstream one. Granted, there is nothing wrong with Cuomo writing music that he knows his fans will want to hear. It just may be that the Weezer of old can never truly exist in a world that wants it.

In this paradoxical way in which an album can be a Weezer album, then, “Pacific Daydream” certainly is one. Moving beyond this standard, however, one still must decide if it is quality music.

The album is anchored by songs that balance simplicity with depth and subtlety, such as “Weekend Woman,” “Feels Like Summer” and “Happy Hour,” but ultimately it is weakened by awkward, clunky tracks such as “Beach Boys,” “QB Blitz” and “Get Right.”

“Pacific Daydream” is worth a listen, and it has memorable tracks that can compete with any of the rock that is out right now, but these songs are few and far between. For most listeners, the album will prove easier to forget than to remember.