Alternative rock survivors Weezer came of age when MTV still had significant influence on the musical landscape. The innovative video for “Buddy Holly” from the band’s debut release known as “The Blue Album” established principal songwriter Rivers Cuomo’s image as a charming musical nerd, while the band engaged in winking nostalgia alongside the cast of ‘70s-‘80s sitcom “Happy Days.”
Cuomo cemented the image with Weezer’s 1996 sophomore release “Pinkerton.” The album was a very late bloomer in terms of commercial success, but devoted fans latched onto Cuomo’s confessions of disillusionment, self-doubt, and unrequited lust that morphed into romantic longing. The rowdy “El Scorcho” initially performed poorly on the radio charts, but remains a fan favorite at concerts.
The band has explored variations on its sound and wrestled with the legacy of those first two albums ever since. Weezer scored with singles including “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.” Quirky song “Pork and Beans” was promoted by a clever video celebrating YouTube celebrities and internet memes. Still, Cuomo was criticized for not risking his personal feelings as openly in his writing following those early records.
Weezer’s 2014 album “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” and its accompanying tour were cited as rejuvenated returns to form, but the band’s current self-titled release known as “The White Album” has proven to be even more satisfying. The band’s summery harmonies nod to the Beach Boys in a record perfectly crafted for the season, even while concert cuts such as the piano-punctuated “Jacked Up” find Cuomo returning to the character of the lovesick geek. “Why do my flowers always die,” he moans.
The band has also been performing “California Kids,” a song about good souls ready to help friends from tight spots. “L.A. Girlz” promises a waltz-time wall of fuzzed-out guitar, reminiscent of beloved “Pinkerton” era track “Waiting on You.”
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.