2021 • ROCK • Crush Music/Atlantic
Weezer’s hard-rock-inspired album features some generic and lackluster tracks, but it still manages to provide catchy moments.
In February 2019, before the release of the Black Album, Weezer’s lead vocalist Rivers Cuomo began working on new songs with hard-rock influences. This new direction contrasted with the pop sound that they were following on for a while on their latest releases, 2017’s Pacific Daydream, 2019’s Teal Album, and the Black Album, which featured an electro-pop or pop-rock sound. Later that month, he told Entertainment Weekly that the band was going to go “back to big guitars.” The result of that is Van Weezer, the American band’s fifteenth record, which was announced alongside the band’s participation on the Hella Mega Tour, together with Green Day and Fall Out Boy. However, due to the 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic, the record was delayed and arrives now, a year after the initial release date and after the release of OK Human.
Van Weezer features influences from Van Halen and fulfills its initial purpose: making a rockish record to be played on tour. Although the album it’s not original, different, or goes beyond the usual and common sense, it is still fun and entertaining. Working around mostly romantic and young-adult thematics, Van Weezer is fluid, quick, and never delay to deliver what they need to deliver. Mixing catchy hooks with nice transitions and well-structured lyrics, the album is definitely not as good and remarkable as OK Human, but still delivers some good moments and kinda proves that Weezer not only releases a good album after some bad ones.
Van Weezer it’s probably the band’s shortest album so far. It runs for only 31 minutes, with songs that rarely go further than 3 minutes long. At the same time that it makes the album has a nice flow and seems to be faster than it looks and should, it also makes the tracks early and needy. “The End of the Game,” is the best example of that, with you not being able to enjoy and properly digest the track before it ends. Sure, in some moments it makes no difference, but in others, you need to go back to listen to it so many times to understand if you like — or dislike — it. Furthermore, the first half of the record is the weakest part of it. The opener, “Hero,” in its turn, features bad poor arrangements and transitions. Meanwhile, “All the Good Ones” has pretty cute lyrics but it gets more tiring and tiring each time you listen to it, and “I Need Some of That” doesn’t sound bad only because of the production that makes the generic catchy hooks less dated. But, as said, the flow of the album kinda masks it.
However, when you go deeper and deeper into the record, it only gets better. “Beginning of the End” it’s the point where it happens, mainly because is when the band seems to abandon the generic and more usual 2000’s rock sound. Sure that some points remain pretty indifferent compared to the rest of the albums of this genre, but in the aftermath, it’s still amusing. While “Beginning of the End” features some pretty nice string solo bridge, “Blue Dream” appears with darker and heavier guitars, playing with silly lyrics that kinda works with the sounds and that makes sense with the 80’s rock inspiration that they used to build the album. “1 More Hit,” in its turn, is even darker, with intimidating verses and relaxed choruses. However, the best part of the track is the mind-boggling strings solos on the bridge, which’s the point where the song reaches its climax.
The record’s final stretch is where you get the finest and more remarkable moments on the entire album. After the weak “Sheila Can Do It,” which, although has some issues, it’s still pretty nice, “She Needs Me” shows up as one the strongest moments on the record. The track easily resembles OK Human’s “Mirror Image” and has this 2000’s garage rock energy. Cuomo starts singing, “In this big, bad world, there’s things I do/When she needs help, I come through,” and finishes later, “She needs me/And that’s why I need her.” However, the best track on Van Weezer is “Precious Metal Girl,” the closer, also resembles the “Numbers,” a track from their latest album, showing the vocalist besides an acoustic guitar, singing, “I don’t invest in stocks/I don’t invest in bonds/Who needs real estate when I got you?” It’s the first time Weezer sounds young in a while. “You’re my precious metal girl/My best friend in the world,” Cuomo finishes later. Van Weezer isn’t good like OK Human or Blue Album but breaks the legend about the were going to need to wait for some time to listen to another good album by Weezer.