If anyone’s after a good laugh you could do a lot worse than getting the new self-titled Weezer record, being dubbed as the Red album due to the sleeve colour that provides the backdrop for the guys to dress up like the Village People (god knows what they were thinking!?!). For those of you that have managed to avoid the leaked tracks then you’re in for a real mind blowing experience in every sense, but mostly in the sense of confusion.
It’s hard to fathom that this is the same guy that wrote such amazing songs as ‘Say It Ain’t So’, ‘My Name is Jonas’, ‘Buddy Holly’, and ‘El Scorcho’, but for the most part it is, sadly. I say for the most part because each of the band have contributed a song to this record making it the first Weezer record to do so… let’s start with those, shall we?
‘Thought I Knew’ is Brian Bell’s contribution, long standing guitarist in Weezer and also leader of his own band, The Relationship, I have to say I won’t be bothering to seek their stuff out on account of this song, that’s for sure. I can only describe it as really lazy songwriting – yes there is a hook with a pleasant enough harmony but ultimately it sounds like Sugar Ray. Skip it!
‘Cold Dark World’ is newest member and bassist Scott Shriner’s song; this contains some of the worst lyrics on the album and that’s saying something. “I will protect you, never disrespect you but if you need love then I’ll be here to sex you”. Oh God, it’s awful, except for the drum sound… good drums, bad song, enough said.
‘Automatic’ was previewed on Gran Turismo 5 and is Pat Wilson’s turn to shine. As a founding member of Special Goodness, I had a little more stock in Pat actually pulling it off and to an extent he has, it’s the best of the non-Cuomo songs and is relatively inoffensive, but we’re still a long way off anything resembling classic Weezer.
Have faith however, the rest of the album was written by our hero, Rivers Cuomo… oh no, wait a minute, he thinks he’s Flava Flav.
Album opener, ‘Troublemaker’, lays the foundation for much of Cuomo’s adolescent prose, “…marrying a biatch, having seven kiads”. Yip, whatever you say Rivers, the song is super catchy and has some genuinely cool moments, but these seem to lie more in the production than the song writing.
The second track is Weezer’s very own ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ is 13 variations on a Shaker hymn apparently. In other words, it’s 13 different ideas that they’ve stuck together, connected through the lyrical theme that Rivers Cuomo is indeed, the greatest man that has ever lived! Some of this song is genuinely brilliant, there are Beach Boys-influenced moments that sound like a band invigorated but then there’s also police sirens and a 38 year old man saying, “you try to play it cool like you just don’t care but soon I’ll be playing in your underwear…you cum like a dog when I ring your bell”: it’s just so wrong.
The single ‘Pork and Beans’ follows and is undeniably the catchiest and best thing on the record; I’ll not get hung up on these lyrics as it just doesn’t matter when the tune is this good. ‘Heart Songs’ however is destined for a ripping! Cuomo name-checks all the music he’s listened to whilst growing up to where he’s at now over lush acoustic strumming. It’s bad. “Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Slayer taught me how to shred, I’ve got to admit though, sometimes I’d like to listen to the radio”, by the time he announces that hearing the record with the naked baby on it, “broke the chains” he had upon himself. God, this is painfully funny stuff. You’ve got to laugh, what else could you do – except maybe puke.
Right next up, the worst thing Rivers Cuomo has every written, ‘Everybody Get Dangerous’. This has everything wrong with it, it’s essentially Weezer impersonating The Red Hot Chili Peppers, funky riffage, wanky drums, cheesy scratching and a chorus topped with “booyahs!”. By this point you’re thinking, “Fuck off – Are they serious!?” Cuomo sings, “When I was young yeah, I used to go cow-tipping for fun yeah, actually I didn’t do that” – well why the hell haven’t you scored that line out instead of keeping it in you twat, it’s just beyond awful, awful, awful!
‘Dreamin’’ sounds a million times better following that, it’s similar to ‘Keep Fishing’ from Maladroit but a bit less concise; it’s got a hint of the Beach Boys in it again but once more it doesn’t really hold up with much of Weezer’s catalogue – it just sounds impressive in amongst this lot.
The album closer ‘The Angel and the One’ is much better, much like ‘Only in Dreams’ in the epic sense. The lyrics actually stand up and the tune builds up into a mighty crescendo, completely different to ‘Pork and Beans’ but these are the finest cuts on here.
There are a couple of cover version bonus tracks, ‘The Weight’ originally by The Band, The Weez do an admirable job I guess, and ‘Life is What You Make It’ by Talk Talk – the original’s great, and this is shit… not very constructive, but I’m bored now. There’s actually a deluxe version of this album out too with a second bonus cd of tracks they left off the record. Sadly I don’t have that to review but if it’s got worse stuff than this then it should be a hoot!
In my opinion Weezer were one of the best bands in the world with a song-writer so melodic you couldn’t argue – their self-titled debut and the follow up, ‘Pinkerton’, are classic alternative records that I always go back to and will no doubt always spark my interest in hearing new Weezer records, but if ever a record was to tear you apart it’s the Red Album. It’s clear the band are still capable musically in coming up with the goods as there are moments on this record that sound great, but the problem is they are just moments with only a couple of songs that actually stand up as whole pieces. Like a 40 year old going on 14; Cuomo, sort it out!