‘The Blue Album’ took grunge head on, then smashed it in the face with alternative rock and left us with ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘My name is Jonas’, and ‘The Sweater Song’; ‘The Green Album’ pushed away the problems of ‘Pinkerton’, replacing it with power-pop and leaving us with ‘Photographs’, ‘Hash Pipes’, and an ‘Island In the Sun’; ‘the Red Album’ gave way to TR-808 Synths, southern rap, and baroque pop, leaving us with ‘Troublemakers’, ‘Pork and Beans’, and ‘the Greatest Man That Ever Lived’. ‘The White Album’ – the Californian alternative rock legend’s tenth studio album – takes the red, splashes it with green, rubs a little blue over it and leaves us wondering why this isn’t the swansong Rivers Cuomo and co. deserve after 24 years of being the alternative rock scene’s resident underdogs.
‘The White Album’ isn’t the worst album in the world, it just isn’t the best either – a statement you could possibly use with every Weezer album, give or take one or two. Having slaved over perfecting their powerful pop-rock cocktail, they’ve settled into a slump like a man does a relationship, getting far too comfortable far too quickly and staying that way for eternity – and whilst this is all well and good for those of us who like Weezer, it’s like putting a cap on their ceiling of success: they’ll never quite break the mould like they did in 1994.
Opener, ‘California Kids’, is as catchy as the flu at Christmas, with a dum-dum guitar riff so recognisable it may as well have been taken from one of Weezer’s many previous cuts as they self-prophesize their own struggles in the world, giving themselves their own advice – that they haven’t quite followed: “It’s gonna be alright, if you’re on a sinking ship, the California kids will throw you a lifeline”.
The one-two early-hours combo of ‘Thank God For Girls’ and ‘(Girl We Got A) Good Thing’ remind of why so many fell in love with Weezer in quick succession, before giving way to a clique of all-too-good-to-be-true, bringing bursts of boring in the shape of the drug-riddled, old-school-riff-and-rock, most original title in the world ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’, which is joined by the all-too-predictable ode-to-Rivers-wife ‘King Of The World’, and the meat-and-potatoes pop-rock ditty ‘Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori’ – seriously, isn’t Rivers Cuomo a little old to be crying over spilt milk and threesomes?
‘The White Album’s’ saving grace is Rivers’ everlasting ability to string words together as slickly and as sickly as possible in as many sassy and savvy ways as possible, whether it’s using Hare Krishna as a metaphor for happiness or wittily comparing the punishment of holding your chopsticks wrong to the dropping of an atom bomb.
Whilst ‘The White Album’ isn’t the culmination of twenty-four years and ten albums, it is certainly Weezer’s very own handmade Guide for Dummies, pick-and-mixing their best bits from albums gone by into ten hip-hop beating, riff-and-rocking, power-popping ditties reviewing two decades of growing up in California.
‘The White Album’ is out now via Crush Music
This Weezer article was written by Jack Press, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard