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It's gonna be Weez

You've got to respect this. After being royally panned by critics and radio stations in 1996, Weezer disappears for five years. Then, instead of producing a self-reflective manifesto to defend and legitimize their silence, they offer a mere 28 minutes of the nerd rock that made us mosh to our algebra homework.

And amazingly, even to the band themselves--after all these years--they have had a large cult following emerge from the woodwork to sell out last winter's pre-album tour and gobble up the album now that it's been released. Maybe it's lead singer and former Harvard student Rivers Cuomo's Blur-like, dweebish awkwardness that kept the fans around. Or perhaps it's the band's evacuation of Pinkerton, the band's spastic techno-influenced effort that garnered Rolling Stone's worst album of 1996 honors.

Weezer is not shy about staying close to their debut album stylistically. Superficially, both records are eponymously titled Weezer and basically brandish the same cover--the only major difference is that the background is now lime not turquoise, earning the two albums the monickers "The Green Album" and "The Blue Album." But the similarities go beyond the cover. Following the pattern of TBA's crunchiest songs, the majority of TGA is powered by churning guitars and simple, but addictively catchy, hooks. "Crab" is built around never-ending punk guitar chords and is reminiscent of "Surf Wax USA" with marginally less silly lyrics. "Crab if you need it/she put her knickers on," the song urges.

The album's high points include "Photograph," "Simple Pages" and "Hash Pipe," the lead single that MTV found too risque to leave uncensored. This is unfortunate because "Hash Pipe" is a charmingly witty little rant that grinds and squeaks itself out over ominous, rhythmic guitars that make you think Jaws is going to tear through your stereo and into your living room. "Come on and kick me/you've got your problems/I've got my ass wide/you've got your big G's/I've got my hash pipe," Cuomo rails.

Unfortunately on TGA the band really doesn't challenge itself to get much beyond their rather formulaic songs--at least not like they did in the cult classic "Undone (The Sweater Song)." Don't get me wrong; with the possible exception of the sappy "O Girlfriend," each song on this record is very listenable and a few of them rival the band's best tunes. But collectively, the songs sound too much the same.

In a way it's a good thing that Weezer doesn't make albums much longer than they do, or TGA would be incredibly exhausting and rather monotonous. Thankfully, Weezer, unlike Limp Bizkit, whose latest offering bluthers on for about 75 minutes, realize their own limits--and the fans love them for it.

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