Weezer, “Weezer” (Geffen) [3.5 stars]

SHARE Weezer, “Weezer” (Geffen) [3.5 stars]

On the third self-titled release of its 15-year-careerdestined to be

called the Red Album in the tradition of the bands classic 1994 debut

(the Blue Album) and the second Weezer a decade later (the Green

Album)bandleader Rivers Cuomo marks a welcome return to the more

complicated but deeply heartfelt songwriting of the groups early days and

the proto-emo Pinkerton, veering away from the simplistic and at times

bombastic arena-rock epitomized by Beverly Hills, the standout hit from

its last album Make Believe (2005). The song that best captures the vibe

here is a sort of sequel to the rock n roll bildungsroman of In the

Garage called Heart Songs, in which the quartets auteur recalls falling

in love with pop music while listening to the AM radio in the backseat of

his parents car.

Gordon Lightfoot sang a song about a boat that sank in a lake/At the

break of the mornin a Cat name Stevens found a faith he could believe

in, the still-adenoidal, Harvard-educated Cuomo sings. Eddie

Rabbitt sang about how much he loved a rainy night/ABBA, Devo, Benatar were

there the day John Lennon died These are my heart songs/They never feel

wrong. The tune culminates with the writer hearing his roommates

copy of Nevermind and deciding to form a band himself.

Scoff if you will, but at his best, Cuomo has always been able to turn

cheese into gold, and he walks the tightrope in brilliant form through much

of the bands sixth album, whether hes mocking hip-hop braggadocio (The

Greatest Man That Ever Lived), mocking the inanity of

lowest-common-denominator pop (Pork and Beans) or daring to be the

left-footed fool trying to get funky on the dance floor at a family wedding

(Everybody Get Dangerous), all the while challenging conventional song

structure with unexpected twists and turns that nevertheless produce

unlikely hooks.

The Red Album isnt without flaws: Late in the disc, Cuomo makes the

well-intentioned gesture of allowing his bandmates to write or co-author

one song each, and these turn out to be the albums least memorable. But

the high points are as high as any these still essential alternative-era

veterans have given us.

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