Something old, something new

For better or worse, there is a sense of change in Weezer’s 2008 third self-titled album, “Weezer.” It’s still produced by Rick Rubin and features the same members from the previous album. 
    Front-man and guitarist Rivers Cuomo shockingly relents and allows rhythm guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Patrick Wilson to each write and sing a song. This is a first on a Weezer album and causes some unevenness throughout. There are also a few lengthy tracks, rare on any Weezer album.  And though Cuomo seeming a bit boastful and arrogant as if he were in Kiss is nothing new, it is justified by his introspectiveness and vulnerability about approaching 40, instead of around 30 like on previous albums.
    The album gets going with the familiar catchy opening track, “Troublemaker,” where Cuomo proudly claims, “I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker/ Doing things my own way, never giving up.” 
    However, on the next song, the nearly six minute Queen-esque “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (variations on a Shaker Hymn),” it’s easy to forgive Cuomo rapping Fred Durst style because it eventually leads to the band singing opera-style and Cuomo wailing the chorus, “I’m the greatest man who ever lived,” in classic Weezer fashion. 
    The album is different and may take a while for Weezer fans to accept. But it works because it still carries that urgency with an introspective timeline in the form of three different aspects of Cuomo’s career.
    “Pork and Beans” is probably as close as Weezer will get to their roots with a catchy guitar driven hook in the vein of the Blue Album, where Cuomo shows his vulnerability about nearing 40 where he sings, “Need some Rogaine to put in my hair/ working out at the gym to fit in my underwear.”
    The amusing ballad “Heart Songs” has Cuomo gently singing about all the mainstream pop figures that have influenced him and made him who he is today. 
    However, apart from the over five minute “Dreamin,” where Cuomo returns to a younger geekier age before being a rock god, the album becomes uneven and turns for worse.
    Not surprisingly, it’s the tracks written and sung by the other members of the band that make the album uneven. Unfortunately, the three generic tracks that sound like 1999-rock run together, making the listener lose interest in the album. The vocals lack the rush and thought-provocation that fans are used to hearing when Cuomo sings. 
    At least the nearly seven-minute epic closer, “The Angel and the One,” does the second half of the album a little justice where emotion leaks through and Cuomo yearns for peace. 
    There is also a deluxe edition of the album available where four new tracks are added to the record.  However, they are slower songs.
    If Cuomo would have written all the tracks like he has always done before, the “Red Album” might have been much stronger. But maybe this is a wiser and older Weezer; a more democratic Weezer, where everyone has their say. But the bottom line is that fans should stop comparing every new Weezer album to the “Blue Album” or “Pinkerton,” because it’s tough to top two absolute masterpieces. But maybe this is the starting point of a new era, keeping some of the melodies and views along the way.

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