Weezer: an amiable detour from Pinkerton's second wave
The deepest cynic could define Weezer as the band who never got going; pointing the finger at lead vocalist and guitarist Rivers Cuomo
for his mixed feelings on success, or his compromised commitment after enrolling to study Classic Composition at Harvard following the success of their debut self-titled (blue) album in 1994. A more accurate synopsis however, is to interpret them as the band who were never awarded this privilege, with the death of Kurt Cobain arguably inaugurating grunge's decadence and the switch in momentum from the gritty realism of Seattle's underworld to Britpop's unadulterated hedonism, proceeding to dominate the contemporary scene until the turn of the millennium. Perhaps it was this dichotomy and temporality which predetermined the failure of their follow up, 'Pinkerton (1996), which despite now standing as the band's most iconic album and the most successful encapsulation of Cuomo's true self, suffered from a poor commercial performance and negative reviews that were perhaps relative to the incomprehensibly jubilant grain of the prevailing scene in Britain; forcing Cuomo into retrospective embarrassment over 'Pinkerton's confessionalism and thus feasibly contributing to the bands decision to go on hiatus in the following year.
In 2001 however, Weezer were to return a reformed outfit: not only showcasing a new bassist in Mikey Welsh replacing the departed Matt Sharp, but a more optimistic and pop rooted sound in what is known as the 'Green Album', successfully distancing the band from its past expressionism and hence further towards the recapitulation of college-rock youthfulness, similarly Green Day and Blink 182. 'Maladroit' (2002) renewed this momentum, although it also appeared to commence another wave of decadence; with 'Make Believe' (2005) the 'Red Album (2008), and 'Raditude' (2009) turning out lukewarm interpretations normatively speaking, with the latter being constituted of songs partially outsourced to industry songwriters which could be perceived to portray a slightly ill reflection upon Cuomo's intuitive flair.
The turn of the decade however commenced another wave of innovation for the band, with the Meat Loaf reminiscent power rock in 'Everything Will Be Alright in the End' (2014) and the more playful 'White Album' (2016) signifying a convincing return to form as well as being fitting follow-ups to the Pinkerton's alluring despondency, which the 'naughties' era unfairly portrayed, at least indirectly, as a fatal mistake. With this firm and satisfying ratification, Weezer appears to have moved to new pastures once again with 'Pacific Daydream' (2017). Opener 'Mexican Fender' best portrays increased potency on production to take to take the group into a more sonically enhanced direction; sounding crisper and brighter all the while retaining their post-2000 college rock foci, but from a retrospective, standpoint attained through increased maturity. 'Beach Boys' goes on to display some slightly left-field studio techniques with a noise filter applied as an effect above an on-beat dub reggae guitar, fitting well over could be described as a self- assured West Coast rhythm section; encapsulating Weezer's uniqueness in how they can succeed in executing an aesthetic constituted of math-rock and Californian-dudebro to allow them to pull off one of the most convincing forms of geek-chic irony.
Unfortunately lead single 'Feels Like Summer' is probably most accurately described as the antithesis of this: being little more than a dip in the postmodern melting pot of simulacrum, however, this vulgarity in itself fails to prevent it from being vexingly catchy. Moving forwards, 'Weekend Woman' perhaps best exemplifies the band's leaning towards cultural populism on this album through striving to distance themselves somewhat from their ironic intellectual narcissism; the following 'QB Blitz' however, admirably refutes this through the poetic 'I can't get anyone to do algebra with me... I don't hang out enough' and 'I'll be missing you like oxygen' to re-affirm this ontological wit whilst their walking basslines remain intact.
From here it could be argued that Pacific Daydream's allure starts to tire somewhat, with 'Sweet Mary' and 'La Mancha Screwjob' being flat and melodically barren, although these more underwhelming contributions are to some extent rescued by the upbeat and the defiant progressivism of 'Get Right' keeping them up apart, with the driving chorus growing larger at each point of circulation. 'Any Friend of Diane's' if anything, in addition to not offering much as a closer, paints a relatively sub-par reflection of the new colours that this album brings to light; arguably making the idea of refraining from such categorisation alongside the other four self-titled efforts a well-calculated decision, thus perhaps justifying it place in this context. For the most part, however, 'Pacific Daydream' comes across slightly as a side project to the anticipated ' Black Album', which Cuomo et al. have already announced, but this is not to strip it of its more sparkling merits.