Weezer - Pacific Daydream
by Oliver Rose
I don’t know as it’s all that unfair to bestow upon Weezer the title: most disappointing rock band of all time. I can think of no other group that fall short of expectations or potential as often, or indeed, as hard as Rivers Cuomo and the gang. Following their stellar baptism by fire (post-grunge masterstroke ‘the blue album’, followed quickly by anxious sophomore home-run Pinkerton), Weezer nose-dived into a six album hit-and-miss pit of despair, intermittently recording songs as brilliant as Pork and Beans, but churning out crap like Memories (don’t you _dare _pretend you liked it – objective analysis and fond nostalgia are different, and you know it). All the while, the bar dropped significantly, and even the more wryly poppy bangers (Beverly Hills, (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, etc.) never stood up to the earth-shattering perfection of mere album tracks from the early years – Surf Wax America, Falling for You, Butterfly… the list goes on…
So after a magnificent (and wholly unexpected) renaissance across sterling mid-career long-players Everything Will Be Alright in the End, and latterly, ‘the white album,’ it seemed then, that the amateurish days of ‘the Red album’ and (lord, forgive me) Raditude, were behind us. No questionable rap features; no weird ‘kinky daddy’ potentialities; no fucking Hurley from Lost on the album cover. Yes, siree – it seemed (for a time at least) that the old Weezer were (almost) back, and in place of those horrific, plastic tonalities, we were at last reunited with scorching Casiotone, crazy cute chord progressions and a Rivers Cuomo that was still odd, but not insane.
At the opening of the band’s eleventh album, it feels like these may still be the present conditions. Mexican Fender is a summery rock jam about falling in love with a girl at a guitar depot – she’s there with her boyfriend, trying to get her 10,000 steps in, and then – god, damn it – you’re suddenly smitten. It’s a wonderful rock-pop tune – not Cuomo’s best, but (ultimately) serviceable.
The same, however, cannot be said of the next nine tracks, whose bland, soulless tunes bear the weight of equally vacuous and uninteresting lyrics. This forgettable, pappy garbage stretches across arguably the worst thirty minutes of music Weezer have ever produced. As constructions go, Cuomo’s vocal melodies and chord progressions are fine, but the textures, tempos and cheese-heavy production break the songs. Exemplary of this is Sweet Mary: this would have been a brilliant, high-octane banger on Everything… and a winning, waltzing shredder on ‘white.’ Here it’s a non-descript pop song, with a lyric about never getting to touch your crush that feels slightly rehashed…
At their best, the lyrics throughout Daydream are shallow summertime clichés, rolled out against their will and practically bandy from forced labour. (Titles such as Feels Like Summer, Weekend Woman and Happy Hour should tell you all you need to know.) There’s sun, cocktails and sexy time on the beach. _Yawn._ Much worse, however, are the other lyrics – the punishingly clumsy ones, like Beach Boys: “Turn it up / it’s the Beach Boys / making my eyes get moist / hold ‘em up at gunpoint.” Some summer Rivers and the gang are having – where the enjoyment of your favourite surfer rock is a love to be shared by violent projection. Things are only more absurd on QB Blitz, where Cuomo bemoans his failed conversations, which appear to be down to other people’s lack of interest in _his _algebra homework (this being, in of itself, questionable, being as Rivers is in fact forty-seven years old). Elsewhere, the overgrown kidult Cuomo is illogical (he misses his gf ‘like oxygen’ (?)) and eye-rollingly obvious (“Home is where the heart is (Ooh)”).
Behind each of these wet forget-me-pleases, vile EDM tendencies and spongy keyboards – the post-grunge whimsy is gone. I’m all for experimentation and changing it up, but the _real _problem with Pacific Daydream, is that it’s a far cry from the devastating Black Sabbath-inspired romp we were promised. Rivers’ now legendary ‘black album’ was apparently in the works alongside the songs for this – except he finished here first. It’s no surprise really – how long does it really take to write; “You and I, we do it right / hanging out on a summer night / we’ve come so far, we shine so bright”? This sort of awkwardness is hardly new for Weezer, but it feels misplaced here. It’s not ironic. It’s not wry – the air hangs heavy with the smoky scent of far from hilarious mis-fires.
Rivers – what happened here man? You promised us something amazing. You defaulted on that promise, but in the name of another songwriting venture, so we allowed it, reasonable as we are… you even slapped on your best album artwork since Pinkerton. You got us all excited, Rivers. But there’s nothing to be excited about, is there? No, Rivers – there isn’t.
We’re cows, Rivers, and you tipped us. Don’t pretend you didn’t. This time, it was _us_ getting tipped. We felt it Rivers, and we’re not going to go forgetting it… Jsheeeesh…