Review: Weezer — “The Black Album”

Weezer is the only band in existence that has a spot in my least favorite albums of all time. Though despite their obvious inconsistencies they have always integral to my musical personality. They’re an incredibly endearing, charming and memorable band that has released some amazing and genuinely timeless music over the years.

I could rant forever about my opinions on everything else the band has done, but I’m sure the vast majority of even the casual Weezer fans have already developed their own opinions on the band’s catalog. I’ll save my breath here and jump into tackling this new beast that we’re all dealing with now.

Weezer by Sean Murphy
photo: Sean Murphy

“The Darkest Album Yet”

While hyping up the release of this record the band made sure to remind us countless times that this will be the darkest material they’ve made in a very long time. I think this had the majority of the band’s fan base anticipating something similar to Pinkerton, which many of us would have gone crazy for. But with the oddball release of Pacific Daydream throwing us all of the fans were all left questioning whether there would even be a Black Album, never mind a Pinkerton successor.

There’s a lot of subtle lyrical jabs and topical subject matter that can be interpreted as much more serious in tone than the majority of Weezer’s music. For example, the highlight single “Zombie Bastards” is incredibly introspective and shows Rivers lashing out against his fan base who has always been as inconsistent and demanding as the group’s discography. There are plenty of sarcastic and even mildly angry remarks to boot throughout the listen.

Overall, I would say the band did deliver an album that’s darker and more lyrically interesting than what’s par for the course. But the solid lyrics don’t make up for the album’s unfortunate shortcomings.

The Best of the Band’s Bad Albums

This thing is nowhere near as abysmal as Raditude or as disappointing as Pacific Daydream, but it’s certainly a far cry from the quality of even the Green Album. There are a couple of solid tracks in the new album which I have already seen myself coming back to here and there, though those standout cuts only make up a little under half the album and end up not being enough to save it from feeling under-baked.

Tracks like the aforementioned “Zombie Bastards”, the groovy and blissful favorite “High As a Kite”, and the slightly grungy and sarcastic “I’m Just Being Honest” are great songs, even the opener could be lumped in there too. But that doesn’t quite make up for everything else.

The rest of the album feels really lethargic and bored as if the band didn’t have any faith in the release straight out of the gate. This is a claim that can easily be backed up by the fact that they have barely even been playing any of the songs from the record on their current tour, which is entire to support this album.

How Does It Sound?

While Black doesn’t stray as far into the radio-ready, sugar-coated wasteland as their last album. Also, it doesn’t have much on it that will sonically remind listeners of the band’s prime. The guitars are almost always an afterthought, as the album never has any of those crunchy and sweet power chord melodies.

That things like the Blue Album and Maladroit had, opting instead for atmospheric synths and drum patches behind mid-tempo slogs. The record is arguably the least energetic release the band has ever had, as it sacrifices nearly all of the upbeat pep Weezer has made a signature aspect of their sound, and it’s sorely missed here.

The guys are all casually drifting around on their instruments with Rivers lazily dropping some somewhat moody and thought-provoking lyrics encased beneath a boring vocal performance. I hate to say this about such a charming and charismatic group, but they simply sound like they don’t want to be here on this release.

Weezer is coming across as very confused right now. They have almost always failed to truly evolve in terms of incorporating new elements into their sound. But while I could listen to their fantastic, more Rock focused efforts forever, I can’t blame them for constantly wanting to change things up. I think it even shows more promise than any of the band’s other failed efforts to change it up.

However, it’s still riddled with issues that just can’t be overlooked. I think the band knew that before they even released the record. It might be time for everyone’s favorite 90’s darlings to take a little bit of extra time before releasing more music so that they can come back rejuvenated and hungry again. So if it takes a bit of silence after the Black Album for that to happen I’ll be okay with it.

Must-listen to: Zombie Bastards, High As a Kite, I’m Just Being Honest

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