Weezer - The Red Album

2008-07-30 14:01
In the opening stages, The Red Album administers a heavy dose of nerd rock fantasy. Most of us who can’t bench our own weight have mock-dabbled in the kind of self-deluding arrogance heard in “Troublemaker”, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” and “Pork and Beans” as an alternative to our more insecure selves, and on that level they retain some appeal. But hearing seven hundred shades of “I’m the tops, I’m the king; All the girls get up when I sing” has us praying that Cuomo isn’t being serious, because that would make him a bombastic ass.

In the middle of these “fake, or are they?” bits of self-promotion sits the crown jewel of the album. Cuomo jumps out of character, not for the last time, to explain his love for music by name-checking his so-called “Heart Songs”, before reliving the first baby steps of Weezer almost two decades ago. Wonderfully vulnerable, it’s a rare moment on the record where no second guessing is required.

Softer moments follow on the distorted alternative anthems in the first half. While refreshingly down-to-earth, Patrick Wilson and Brian Bell’s songwriting contributions in “Thought I Knew” and “Automatic” don’t quite say anything new, and we’re left pining for Cuomo’s more stylised offerings. Appropriately, our expectations are dashed again in the finale, “The Angel and The One”, when Weezer hit a transcendental mood. What starts as an inter-lover sob story (“So many reasons why I have to go”) ends up as an honest-to-God spiritual awakening: “I'm flying up so high, my purple majesty displaying”. It’s just not worth asking what crack these guys are on, because by the time the refrain “peace, shalom, peace, shalom” kicks in, you’ll have missed out on something disarmingly powerful. When since the Beatles has a band gotten its Chakra flowing so openly?

The Red Album is a loopy chai tea that many of us would rather not sip from. For the rest, once the lingering macho ghost in Cuomo’s lyrics has been dispelled, there’s a lot of post-everything laughter and tears to be dug up amongst the weeds.

- Niel Bekker
What a post-modern mess. Weezer’s third self-titled album, fan-dubbed The Red Album, genre-surfs without shame on a giant wave of (what looks like) irony, and barely gets away with it. It’s a lot of work to decipher the layers of sarcasm and self-awareness that River Cuomo and his bros have dished up this time, hence it’s a grower that might only hook you months or years down the line.

What to read next: Kalahari

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.