Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weezer The Red Album -- Rivers, Pat, Scott, and Brian Have Done It Again


Thanks to my best friend, I've got my hands on some of the new Weezer album (don't worry, I will buy it the day it comes out). I've only heard eight of the ten tracks from the new eponymously-titled album, but I have to say that what I've heard is good, really good, as in, "holy crap this is unbelievably good" when you hear some of the songs for the first time. Whereas the masterpiece Pinkerton was Rivers Cuomo exposing his angry-young-man fears to the world, the Red Album appears to be his coming clean about his true feelings and about how he feels about life and his art. But, so much more than that, this album sounds like a true collaboration, with the musical talent of all the band members allow to flourish. Rivers' genius is well known; now the other guys have been given more say in how the band goes, making it sound more like their band than just his band.

Enough pop psychology, let me tell you about the tracks:

#1 "Troublemaker" it reminds me of that classic Weezer sound. It has a catchy chorus, the guitar drives things along at a steady clip. The lyric, "I'm gonna be a rockstar and you will go to bed with me" might be predictive or an imperative. The lyric "Marrying a biatch, have seven kiads, givin' up and growin' old and hoping there's a god" might at first cause a rub, but as Tim pointed out, "that would suck." I agree, having lots of kids, getting old, and giving up, without a firm belief that there is a god might make someone seem disappointed with life. Moving beyond hope into faith is the goal. I'm sure he didn't mean it that way, but I sneer at authorial intention (when it suits me).

#2 "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)", this really isn't one song, but like ten all blended seamlessly together. Put quite simply, this is a work of staggering genius, lyrically, musically, and performance-wise. Let it be confirmed forever that Pat Wilson has mastered the playing of drums and other percussion instruments; he astounds repeatedly and never ever misses a beat. Rivers' voice hasn't sounded this good and strong since "Across the Sea." The mens-college choir that comes in is awesome, in the original sense of the word. Also, there's something great about singing "I'm the greatest man that ever lived" over and over. Free of all hyperbole, this is as close as I've heard someone besides Queen make a "Bohemian Rhapsody-"style song. I can listen to it over and over again, as I already have.

#3 "Pork and Beans" This is classic hit Weezer. The lyrics speak volumes about the crap that bands must have to deal with vis a viz their record companies. "Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of charts, maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art." That's not a dig on Timbaland, it's point-blank aimed at the record execs (probably at Geffen) who want Weezer to make "more commercial" type music. That a veteran band like Weezer is till being told to think about their image cracks me up; "maybe then I can perfect the art" is so laden with sarcasm it's hard to type. The refrain, chanted over and over again, "I don't care" is a flipoff to the record execs and the world, that Weezer isn't about image (think of the photo on their first album cover for pete's sake).

#4 "Heart Songs" this song will be huge. It's Generation X nostalgia, and a theme that we can all relate to, songs that are close to our hearts. We each know which music we love, but then there's the guilty pleasures. I know every word to Rob Base's "It Takes Two" and I loved the Escape Club. We've all got heart songs. I'm banking on it. http://www.thesearemyheartsongs.com/ belongs to timmac.

#5 "Everybody Get Dangerous" These is a really strong song, but compared to the other gems on the album, it doesn't seem quite as good. I like it, the guitar is good, and the lyrics are clever and keep your attention. If it had a chorus that didn't just repeat "everybody get dangerous" eight times, it would be better. "What would we say, when our kids come to us, and ask with a smile on their face, "hey dad, my friends got some new ninja swords, is it cool if we smash up this place?" That's good writing.

#6 "Dreamin'" It starts like any old really good Weezer, off Green or Maladroit, and then at 2:20 into the song, we have a two-round repetition between Brian and Rivers, it is just great, and shows how talented these guys really are. This level of creativity in their late 30's cements for me at least, their place among the top-50 rocks bands of all time, and ensures their entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (like that matters to them).

#7 "Thought I Knew" Brian Bell sings lead on this song. His voice, on this track at least, reminds me of Son Volt, Sister Hazel, and maybe a little Steeler's Wheel. This song confirms my belief that Brian Bell could front his own band, his Space Twins band has a really good song called "Osaka Aquabus."

#8 "Cold Dark World" A middling song compared to the other ones, which really isn't fair to it or the band. The lyrics are crisp and poignant, but after the other seven tracks, this one seems weakest. But Weezer's weakest is still pretty strong; e.g. I don't skip over this track to get to the next one.

I cannot wait until June 3rd when I can hold this one in my hand. Good job guys, this one's a monster.

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