The Red Album
It’s been seven months since Weezer’s lead vocalist River Cuomo’s solo release, three years since Weezer released Make Believe and 16 years since Weezer’s inception. After five albums, one would think they would take a change in direction after such a long history as an alt-rock figurehead.
But Weezer is still no different, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be changing any time soon.
The Red Album, Weezer’s sixth studio album and third solid color to date, was released about a month ago, receiving mixed reviews despite its overwhelming popularity. After the disappointing Make Believe, a solid album was needed to bring Weezer back to the level of their past releases. However, The Red Album is nothing more than a plain and uninteresting continuation of what everyone’s already heard.
Fans and critics are calling it a “breakthrough experimental record,” citing Cuomo’s rap sequences and the band’s collaborative efforts as signs of progress and innovation. This claim would be accurate if they had replaced “experimental” with “more of the same.” The amount of new material and innovation on this record is miniscule at best, despite its incorporation of a synthesizer pad and drum machine (there’s only one instance of each).
If there’s anything that describes Weezer, it’s their heavy and slow-churning simplicity. Every album reeks of it, and whether it’s their basic lyrics or three-chord songs, the group never strays far from its original sound.
Lyrically, there’s nothing there – which is troublesome, because there’s not much there musically either, suggesting devolution of Weezer’s maturity as a band. The Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque “Everybody Get Dangerous” is an ode to youthful devilry and the last thing from progression they could have done. “Heart Songs” is a laundry-list tribute to musical influences that sounds more like a 5th grader’s report on the history of rock.
Perhaps most compelling are the first three tracks, which express the defiant thoughts of a narcissistic and self-propelled musician. The album single “Pork and Beans” criticizes mainstream pinheads like Timbaland and lets everyone know that Cuomo doesn’t “give a hoot about what you think.”
This isn’t to say that the album is terribly produced; With the help of producers Rick Rubin and Rich Costey, it sounds fluid and heavy, just like the previous albums. And although the simplicity is still catchy, it’s boring nevertheless.
Weezer is funky, talented and spontaneous, and they should use their talent to actually experiment.
Give these tracks a listen: Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Automatic
For fans of: Nirvana, Timbaland