Weezer: Pacific Daydream- Album Review
By: Thomas Rodriguez
Weezer returns with a lack of bite on their 11th studio album.
I can vividly recall every moment of the anxiety inducing wait for this album. Seeing as how I was a huge fan of the alt-rock outfit Weezer throughout my childhood to this point, I was no doubt excited about this LP when it was first announced……
Until I heard the singles that is.
Unlike most modern, avid music critics, I don’t avoid singles when they are released in excessive amounts, as was the case with this album (half of the album was released as singles!). The excitement of seeing a new Weezer song posted on the Weezer Youtube page or Twitter account still shoots through me like a jolt of electricity. I have always been a large defender of the band, even at its commonly perceived “worst” moments, as even at these moments they always have had some strong hooks, and simple yet effective guitar playing with some decent lyricism. However, I can’t in good conscience say that these singles were something great, merely okay or just flat out awful. And they exemplify the problems this entire album has throughout its ten tracks.
Take the lead single, Feels Like Summer. Automatically, the most glaring (almost baffling) fault is found in the production. I’m not against the band trying new things, namely swapping out crunchy guitars and sweeping power chords for danceable synths and turntables, but it’s so jarring hearing this from a band that barely a year ago had pounding guitars that destroyed your eardrums. The production lacks bite, and has virtually very little effect on the listener, and is little more than a Top 40 backdrop for what I can admit is a catchy hook written by Rivers Cuomo.
This leads me into my next point regarding why the production is so detrimental to this album. Songs like Get Right and Beach Boys have such forgettable, background noise instrumentals behind them that decent (if a bit half-assed) lyrics and hooks cannot save them. The overproduced sounds on songs like these, especially on a track like Happy Hour, take any texture out of the songs, and leave you almost hungry for more, but not in a good way. In a way, the songs could technically be seen to be background music or Top 40 radio hits when your aux cord isn’t working, but it’s not punchy enough to be Top 40, and River’s good sounding-yet-whiny voice isn’t great for background noise. It’s musical salad: it’s there, but Lord knows you’ll want something to eat after.
However, I won’t always fault a song on this album for a lack of solid production, but rather a lack of good writing. Songs like La Mancha Screwjob and Friend of Diane’s start off promising, but fall into obscurity because of their lack of solid writing overall. The songs have some really un-catchy repetition that serves as an automatic fault to their overall lack of cohesion in writing. I still can’t tell what La Mancha Screwjob is about!
Even if my feelings towards this album are pretty negative, I will give this album credit where it’s due. There are some moments that work here, and no surprise to any Weezer fan, they’re the throwback tracks. Songs that could have been released around the early 2000’s aren’t necessarily the best ones in the Weezer catalogue, yet they’re still better than what the majority of the album offers. Album opener Mexican Fender’s cheesy story about a guitar nerd and saleswoman meeting up is undeniably cute, and the chorus is catchy as hell. Combine this with the great bridge and crunchy guitar, and it’s a much more visceral and textured listen than any of the songs that follow. Weekend Woman, another song on here, is a bit subdued and I wish it were a bit more punchy, as with the rest of the album, yet here I feel it’s made up with an excellent hook and bridge, as well as some great writing. And even with my complaints, the production is still better than the majority of the tracklist. Lastly, the song Sweet Mary stands out to me simply because of the contrast between the writing and performances. The production is quiet, only faint guitars are being strummed in the back, and the lyrics are being sung in in an almost depressed tone, but the writing suggests that the song is actually quite uplifting, about someone who helps the protagonist (Rivers Cuomo) out of hard times. It’s one of the few times where subdued production is not a crutch because the writing saves it!
Which brings me to my final verdict. This is a disappointing album, to say the least. While a few songs stuck out as solid overall, and some songs had some good individual parts in them (Feels Like Summer is catchy as all hell, and that Hoth reference on QB Blitz appealed to my inner nerd), the album is overall just lacking in quality songs. At least that we can take solace in the fact that yes, this is better than Raditude.
Tracks to save: Weekend Woman, Mexican Fender, Sweet Mary
Tracks to skip: Beach Boys, La Mancha Screwjob, Happy Hour