By Ethan Ruh
Weezer, an American band formed in 1992, has created fantastic alternative pop rock throughout the past 25 years. The geeky rock band, led by frontman Rivers Cuomo, made a name for themselves in 1994 with the release of their self-titled first album. The debut album included tracks such as “In the Garage”, “Only in Dreams”, and “Undone-The Sweater Song”, which became anthems for dorks and misfits. The band went on to release more albums, including the more messy and raw Pinkerton (1996), which is considered by many as their greatest. However, for the past two decades, Weezer has not released many powerful and emotional songs similar to the ones released in the 90’s. Many Weezer fans believed that the band should have broken up after the release of albums such as Make Believe (2005), Hurley (2010), and Raditude (2009), albums that all did not receive positive reviews.
However, in the past few years, Weezer released two albums, Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014) and Weezer (White Album) (2016), that sound much more similar to the old Weezer. These albums received fantastic reviews from critics and gave fans a sign of hope. Following this success, Weezer released their 11th album, Pacific Daydream, on October 27th.
The album’s first single, “Feels Like Summer,” was released back in March. This song combines Weezer’s typical rock with elements of electronic dance music. The release of “Feels Like Summer” signaled to Weezer fans that Pacific Daydream was going to go in a different direction than the previous albums. After listening to this lead single, music critic Crash Thompson said, “compared to the last few albums, this is a dramatic shift in style and tone.”
“Feels Like Summer” has a peppy musical background, but the lyrics are much darker. The song deals with heavier themes, such as lost love and death; lead singer Cuomo sings lyrics such as “You’re home with the angels, thank you for being so kind.” However, contrasting the more serious tone of the lyrics, the electronic background creates a lighter and more relaxed mood. “Feels Like Summer” is objectively not a disappointing song, but it is very different from Weezer’s typical releases.
Weezer’s next single, “Mexican Fender,” included more powerful instrumentals and less electronica. Right from the start, “Mexican Fender” is heavy with guitars; Weezer songs are typically very guitar heavy, but “Mexican Fender” is the only song on this album where the impact of the guitar is very prominent. “Mexican Fender” is very catchy and has a classic Weezer vibe to it, due to the combination of the guitar riffs and the emotional and catchy chorus and vocals. This song is very dramatic and dynamic due to the changes in emotion and energy throughout. “Mexican Fender” focuses on a summer love affair, specifically one with a fellow musician.
Unlike the first two singles, the rest of Pacific Daydream has a beachy, mellow, and relaxing vibe. Pacific Daydream feels like an album that is most appropriately listened to while relaxing on the beach, taking a nap. Weezer fans who fell in love with the rock and energy of Weezer’s earlier records will be disappointed with the chill melodies and general softness of the majority of this album. Songs such as “Happy Hour”, “La Mancha Screwjob”, and “Beach Boys” all seem to lack emotion and end up sounding boring and forgettable. These are all very upbeat songs with light instrumentals combined with electronic backgrounds.
Pacific Daydream also includes deeper tracks, such as “Sweet Mary” and “QB Blitz.” On “Sweet Mary,” Cuomo hits excellent falsettos backed by powerful guitar and bass. Cuomo sings about a female spirit who rescues him. “QB Blitz” reflects on growing old and the missed opportunities in the past. Zach Cohen (‘18) said, “The song ‘QB Blitz’ really plays with your emotions.”
Fans of Weezer’s poppier side will be supporters of this album, whereas those who enjoy their rock and grunge will be disappointed. The sound on Pacific Daydream is very atypical to Weezer albums of the past. Despite the differences in sound, Weezer did not experiment much with this album. Weezer has released albums such as Pinkerton, Maladroit (2002), and Weezer (Red Album) (2008), which were all very experimental. For example, on Weezer (Red Album) the band featured vocals from all four members, something they had never attempted before. On Red Album, they also adjusted the standard pop format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, which most Weezer songs follow. On Pacific Daydream, Weezer stayed with their ordinary structure and approach, except for the addition of the electronic background. However, the addition of the dance beats made the standard Weezer songs unrecognizable.
It was entertaining to listen to this album, but its mediocrity and repetitiveness make it bland and tedious. Pacific Daydream definitely has some solid songs in “Mexican Fender,” “Sweet Mary,” and “Weekend Woman,” but these small positives are not enough to make Pacific Daydream an excellent album. Pacific Daydream was disappointing, especially after Weezer (White Album), which was a high point in Weezer’s late career.
It is difficult for a band almost 25 years old to stay relevant in the music industry. It is impressive (and a little bit strange) how a group of 50-year-old men is creating modern pop. Pacific Daydream might not have been a total hit, but the band still has hope for the future. Weezer has announced plans for The Black Album, a darker follow up to the White Album. “The Black Album is almost done, and hopefully it comes out in May,” said Cuomo. Cuomo also stated that the Black Album “is going to be a lot more modern and electronic and not-90s sounding.”
Pacific Daydream: Ruh Rating- 5.5/10.
Featured image courtesy of Atlantic Records.