Arts, Music

After Nine Records, Weezer Struggles To Breathe Life Back Into Career

3 Stars

If you talk to longtime Weezer fans (at least, the ones who are left), two things are clear: they don’t forget how their favorite band betrayed them in the pursuit of more commercial friendly music, and they haven’t forgiven them either. Now, four years after the band’s last release, Weezer is ready to return to its roots with Everything Will Be Alright In The End. And indeed, maybe—just maybe—everything will be alright in the end for the band.

When Weezer decided to go in a more commercially appealing direction with 2009’s Raditude—an album considered as lame and confusing as its title suggests—the group began a slow decline into obscurity. Alienated fans still wistfully long for the raw, minimally produced Weezer of The Blue Album, an album heralded by many to be the best of the ’90s. In Everything Will Be Alright—released 20 years after The Blue Album—Weezer directly addresses its situation, self-consciously attempts to revive the days of old, and even goes as far as to apologize.

The opening song, “Ain’t Got Nobody,” with its thick electric guitars, muddy power chords, and raunchy garage sound, is the closest thing to The Blue Album rawness that the band has released in years. The vocals are slightly overproduced, but the effort is evident, and any Weezer fan will appreciate it. Hidden in the opening buildup is a recording of a male voice saying, “Rock is dead / Guitars are dead.” Frontman Rivers Cuomo then sings the repeating chorus, “Ain’t got nobody / Ain’t got no one to really love me.” This chorus, along with the mysterious male voice, suggests that Weezer is aware of where their musical decisions have taken them: into a world of abysmal record sales and dangerous to near “where-are-they-now” status.

The second song, “Back to the Shack,” provides the apology that Weezer fans have been waiting for. Almost directly addressing his audience, Cuomo sings, “Sorry guys, I didn’t realize that I needed you so much / I thought I’d get a new audience / I forgot that disco sucks.” The chorus that follows could be taken right from any one of Weezer’s earlier albums, and asks us to “rock out like it’s ’94,” which is, coincidentally, the year The Blue Album was released. These two songs act as a self-aware introduction, a promise that Everything Will Be Alright In The End will rectify the wrongs and revive what Weezer used to be. In some ways, this promise is overbearing. The lyrical tone of “Back to the Shack” doesn’t change after that initial apology, saying later, “We belong in the rock world / And there is so much left to do.” If you have to proclaim you are going back to your roots, then maybe you aren’t doing it right.

That being said, Everything Will Be Alright really does make a concerted effort to evoke the sound of earlier works. “Lonely Girl,” is evocative of romantic songs like the earlier “No One Else.” “I’ve Had It Up To Here” has a chorus reminiscent of a faster “Island in the Sun” from The Green Album.This explicit desire to go back in time, however, is constantly in contention with the album’s more commercial sentiments. The vocals have been polished to a shine at certain points, particularly in the pop-friendly “Go Away,” and the lyrics are often geared towards mainstream audiences, like in “Da Vinci.”

All of this is redeemed in the last four songs of the album, a streak of excellence that will excite fans old and new. The angry yet redemptive “Foolish Father” is Weezer grunge-rock at its finest. Raw vocals, strong guitar leads with a gritty tone reminiscent of earlier songs, and honest, reassuring lyrics that retain a sense of angst. The final three songs, “I. Wasteland,” “II. Anonymous,” and “III. Return to Ithaka” provide a three-part master class in jamming in your garage. From uncharacteristically face-melting guitar solos, to sing-along choruses and seamless transitions, they represent a certain kind of evolution in the band’s maturity.

Whether the album will satisfy the rabid disappointment of fans remains unclear. Without a doubt, this is a good album, worthy of a listen from both longtime listeners and the newly initiated. Is this, however, the revival album that Weezer fans have been waiting for? Probably not—but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Featured Image Courtesy of Republic Records

October 8, 2014