Rivers Cuomo and co. deliver another scintillating collection of punk-pop – with added experimentation

Weezer’s huge international success is surely one of the most heartening rock stories of the decade. It was by no means a foregone conclusion that they would enjoy such widespread popularity when they returned from a five-year hiatus with 2001’s Weezer (referred to by fans as The Brown Album to distinguish it from the band’s two other self-titled LPs), but, thankfully, Rivers Cuomo’s gift for songwriting proved as irresistible to a new generation of fans as it had to Generation X-ers in the mid-’90s.

Distressingly, in recent times Weezer have found themselves lumped in with the emo brigade by certain commentators, but they are so far ahead of any bands in that genre that it’s embarrassing. Co-produced by Rick Rubin, the group’s latest eponymous offering (destined to be called The Red Album) once again demonstrates their mastery of punk-pop dynamics.

The single ‘Pork And Beans’ is an electrifying rock stomper in the classic Weezer mould, with Jacknife Lee’s production really making the choruses leap from the speakers. Interestingly, the group have also added some new colours to their musical palette this time around. ‘The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn)’, for example, features a choral vocal section, which is swiftly followed by a R’n’B style falsetto from Cuomo.

Speaking of the dimunitive frontman, aside from his melodic prowess, another aspect that has given him the edge on many of his peers is his deft lyrical touch. Here, the humour of ‘Everybody Get Dangerous’ is comparable to past peaks such as ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘We Are All On Drugs’, both classics of narcotised bubblegum pop, while there is an acoustic ode to artists who have influenced the singer (from Springsteen to Nirvana) on ‘Heart Songs’.

Of late, Weezer have been covering classic tunes by the likes of Gary Numan, Psychedelic Furs and REM, and international editions of the album come with their impressive take on The Band’s ‘The Weight’. It’s an excellent way to conclude a superb album.



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