Weezer: a band I used to love back in grade school through most of high school… Also a band I now find a legitimate chore to listen to.
The Blue Album and Pinkerton were wonderfully wacky and unconventional albums that I still hold in high regard today. “Buddy Holly”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “Undone: The Sweater Song” are still played constantly on alt rock radio stations because they are still highly enjoyable. “El Scorcho”, “The Good Life”, and “Pink Triangle” still come in handy when the power goes out in the middle of Winter and I need some heaters on high. These albums highlighted Weezer at the peak of their creativity. The song lyrics and topics were often weird and atypical, though there was something relatable in the message they conveyed. Even if you didn’t care about the lyrics, the riffs and vocal melodies in these albums were fun and entertaining. Some might even say their look also contributed to their success; these were not your typical rock dudes. And, yes, while it is difficult to advance upon, or even maintain, this level of greatness after the first two albums, one would not have expected such a decline in quality as we have witnessed from Weezer.
The Green Album, Maladroit, and Make Believe were all “ok” albums in my opinion. While they offered some stellar hit singles from each, and are enjoyable albums overall, they still do not reach the level that Pinkerton and Blue set. The Red Album, Raditude and Hurley were all bottom of the barrel for Weezer, with Raditude being the worst Weezer album ever, in my opinion. While some might say this album was part of Weezer’s “experimentation phase”, one has to wonder if Raditude was some genius plan constructed by the band to ensure that every album following it could not be considered as bad as this one. These three albums really challenged me to continue considering myself a “fan” of Weezer. Then, Everything Will Be Alright in The End offered a delightful return to form for Weezer. I thoroughly enjoy this album as it brought back coherent lyrics with some wonderful riffs and melodies. Each song seemed focused on a victorious and uplifting vibe, where Weezer was once again taking hold of the power in their music before it fully slipped away. The White Album attempted to continue this upward trend, though to a much lesser extent. There are some entertaining moments here and there in this album, with the same positive feelings being conveyed throughout, though it did not pack the same punch as Everything Will Be Alright In the End as an overall production. Pacific Daydream is Weezer at their blandest. I can’t remember a lot of the songs on this album as they all sort of blended together for me into a boring and often tedious listen. Which leads us to the focus of this review of the Teal Album…
It’s plain. It’s not bad. It’s not amazing. It just exists.
Ok, so to break this down a little further, Weezer offered an impressive cover of “Africa”, which then turned into an entire album of 80’s era covers for some reason. While the “Africa” cover was a treat to the more active Weezer fans, to the casual listener, it is a track that you say, “Huh. Good job, Weezer. Well done,” then listen to it for maybe a couple weeks and move on. It’s not that this is a bad cover – not at all. In fact, it’s one of the better covers I have heard of a “hit” 80s song in a while. But nothing new is brought to the table with the Weezer cover. Everything instrumentally, vocally, and tempo-wise falls in line with the original. Therein lies the issue. With a band that has been around for this long and has shown the ability to create original sounds, it is difficult to understand why they continue to play things so safe with a cover where they could have dove much deeper into that creativity. Unfortunately, that is the general feel of this entire album.
I will say that when I first saw the full tracklist for this album and the songs Weezer would be covering, my interest was piqued. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is one of my favorite songs of all-time. “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” is a bop, “Paranoid” and “Take on Me” are full-blown heaters, “No Scrubs” is a banger, and “Mr. Blue Sky” slaps. Thankfully, Weezer does a solid job on all of these. While it was risky for a band like Weezer to attempt these, all of these covers are executed very well in all aspects. Plus, it is just fun to hear Weezer perform these covers, especially in the case of “No Scrubs”, a song I was very surprised to see on the tracklist.
There are no major disappointments but two of the covers are weaker than others. “Billie Jean”, another surprise to see Weezer cover, is more or less a watered-down version of the original, which is to be expected when the original is by Michael Jackson; though, I can respect the band’s decision to not go down the route of Rivers-Cuomo-attempting-to-do-a-Michael-Jackson-impression. “Stand by Me” is the other weak point. While this track, is, again, performed appropriately, it really comes across as a play-through of the original, not taking any unique diversions from the framework set by the original.
Overall, the Teal Album is one that is enjoyable, and will probably be fun to hear from at their live shows. However, the appeal wears off after a few listens, at least for the casual listener. While there is not a truly “bad” cover in the Teal Album, it is a warning sign that Weezer is content to play things safe as they move forward. Then again, perhaps the only thing Weezer wanted to do with this album was to make something that was fun for their fans to hear for a short while until their Black Album came out and to prove they can play some songs that might otherwise be considered “out of their depth”. Cover songs are often ripped by listeners when compared to the originals but Weezer has seemingly avoided that here.
Best Tracks: Africa, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Mr. Blue Sky
Weakest Tracks: Billie Jean, Stand by Me
Overall Score: C+