Of all the nonsense terms that are thrown around by bands and PR reps, “return to form” might be the least nonsensical one. It actually means something, and its definition is straightforward. But what about when it comes to Weezer? It could easily be argued that Weezer have always been at their best when they stray from their form (the overly confessional Pinkerton, Maladroit’s heavy riffing, or Everything Will Be Alright in the End’s epic thematic approach). It could just as easily be argued they’re also at their worst (the adult alternative / Lite.FM ready Make Believe, or whatever the hell Raditude was) when they break from the norm.
So what do we get from a return to form Weezer record? A pretty enjoyable pop record, it seems.
While not as ambitious or high-aiming as Everything Will Be Alright in the End, Weezer’s White Album follows the fun power-pop path laid out by the band’s other self-titled records and is mostly successful. In spite of the album sharing the same color scheme as a certain Beatles album, Weezer’s White Album takes a summer pop approach a la the Beach Boys (or, to use a more contemporary act, kind of like Best Coast). In a way, it’s very similar to Weezer’s 2001 self-titled effort (better known as the Green Album), as these songs feel like they need to be listened to with the wind blowing in your hair and the sun shining on your face.
At this point in time, most people have accepted that we’ll never get another Blue or Pinkerton, so of course the White Album is chock full of callbacks to their two most beloved albums. The guitars of “L.A. Girlz” and “Endless Bummer” are exactly the type of sound that made Blue so endearing (“L.A. Girlz” is much, much better than the title suggests, I promise), and there’s already been plenty said about “Do You Wanna Get High?” and its strong Pinkerton vibes- both in instrumentation and how personal the song gets. But what makes the White Album so good is that it never feels like they’re forcing themselves to recreate their old sounds- which is common for bands to do on “return to form” records. It all feels authentic and that the band is having fun again. Actually, I take back what I said in the previous paragraph- this is the type of self-titled album that the Green Album should have been.
Of course, what would a post-2000 Weezer album be without its faults? First single, and worst song of the bunch, “Thank God for Girls” is still enough to get stuck in your head, which only makes it worse once you find yourself singing the lyrics and realizing what you’re saying. To keep up the Green Album comparisons, it’s this album’s “Hash Pipe.” Then there’s “Jacked Up,” which is actually a pretty good song, but it feels out of place to have a piano-driven melody sung mostly in falsetto on an album full of BBQ-on-the-beach anthems. Cuomo has hinted that the band is already working on a follow up, which will allegedly be darker, and “Jacked Up” seems like a hint at what to expect.
It almost feels weird to say, but Everything Will Be Alright in the End has ushered in a new era where it’s okay to be excited for new Weezer music. The White Album is a good album, and it will likely wind up being your fourth or fifth favorite Weezer album, depending on how you feel about Maladroit.
4 / 5
RIYL: Best Coast, Beach Boys, The Rentals