CD review for Weezer, “Weezer” (Red Album)
June 13, 2008
Steamboat Springs — “Weezer” (Red Album)
There are people who say “Pinkerton” is Weezer’s best album.
At least as far as songwriting goes, those people are right. But they’re not really fans of Weezer, a band that has reveled in its own blissfully ironic, pop-drenched stupidity since releasing its first self-titled CD in 1994.
Since that first outing – which was, by the way, pretty much brilliant – Weezer mastermind Rivers Cuomo has been increasingly and unapologetically indulging a love for 1970s and ’80s power metal, blanketing his songs in an ultimate cheesiness that even his source material can’t match.
At first, this was charming, especially when Cuomo tempered 2002’s mostly metal “Maladroit” with straight-ahead pop on his next release, 2005’s “Make Believe” (producer of the ubiquitous and ultra-catchy “Beverly Hills”).
Too bad for Cuomo, and for everyone who listens to his band’s third self-titled release, that approach is not charming any more.
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The color-coded and often irritating “Red Album” kicks off in old-fashioned Weezer style with “Troublemaker,” a simple, self-aggrandizing rocker. Cuomo has long had a reputation for being evasive and not actually liking himself, so the cocksure swagger of the opener falls right in line with what Weezer fans fell in love with.
He keeps the joke fresh with “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn),” a multi-genre rock opera that uses a Shaker melody to travel backward through every pop music movement of the past three decades. If that journey didn’t start in 1998, with rap rock, this song would be very good. As is, it’s just mildly interesting – which sets it apart from the rest of the “Red Album,” and makes it, the second track, the last one worth listening to.
After that, the cheery irony of a one-time nerd rocker embracing his hair metal roots wears too thin to bear.