The tentative rehabilitation of Weezer continues afoot with ‘Pacific Daydream’, a likeable but lightweight collection of guitar-pop.
Weezer have had an interesting career to say the least over their 25 years together. Their legendary self-titled debut (also known as The Blue Album) in 1994 and its 1996 successor Pinkerton are cult classics, two of the best alternative albums of the ‘90s. However, the band’s output subsequently nosedived spectacularly, with albums such as Raditude (2009) and Hurley (2010) registering among some of the worst guitar albums in recent memory. But with last year’s The White Album following the encouraging Everything Will Be Alright In The End in 2014, there were signs that Weezer were getting back on their feet.
READ MORE: Weezer // ‘Pinkerton’ at 20 years old
They have now released their eleventh studio album Pacific Daydream, which is a dramatic departure from the sound of anything they have done before, to the point where you can hardly call it a ‘rock’ album at all. Instead, Pacific Daydream has more of a mainstream pop sound with heavy production at the expense of the guitar – similar to Maroon 5 and Fall Out Boy’s transition to pop. Sadly, they now play a more minimal role compared to them being the key part of the track like they used to on tracks such as ‘Say It Ain’t So’ and even on the recent pop-rock hit ‘King Of The World’. However, this works in favour of the poppier sound that Weezer are aiming for.
As always, Rivers Cuomo seems to be frozen in his youth; you could easily listen to the album and assume the band were teenagers, not men close to the 50 mark. Topics of meeting girls, summer romances, and getting high are basically all he talks about – it all seems very ‘high-school’. Sadly the depth and lyrical maturity heard in The White Album (2016) seems to be lost. In ‘Mexican Fender’ Cuomo tells the story of him and a girl he meets at a guitar shop singing in the chorus the childlike line ‘oh she loves me, she loves me, she loves me not’. Then in ‘QB Blitz’ Cuomo frets how he “can’t get anyone to do algebra with [him]”, immediately recalling memories of maths lessons at school. While topics of love and youth are great because they are so easy for people to relate to and they are a form of nostalgia, they seem to be taken too far on Pacific Daydream, making it repetitive and predictable at some moments.
‘Beach Boys’ is one of the standout tracks of the album instrumentally, with more of a classic sound with the clean bass and guitar riff taking a much more central role. The funky bass riff is what makes the track so memorable compared to ‘La Mancha Screwjob’ and ‘Get Right’ which literally go in one ear and out the other. The Beach Boys have always been a strong influence on Weezer and Cuomo in particular, which can be seen in the album artwork and harmonies of The Blue Album.
Instrumentally there have been a myriad of influences throughout the album. In ‘Any Friend Of Diane’s’ there’s a flamenco style acoustic guitar solo which is the definitely the most original part of the track. In ‘Feels Like Summer’ the piano chords are in a reggae off-beat rhythm which is a reflection of the current pop scene’s infatuation with the reggae sound as heard on Calvin Harris’s ‘Feels’. Therefore, credit is due to Weezer for having a huge musical diversity throughout their career as they have constantly changed their sound throughout each album release.
While it is sad to see influential bands turn to obvious pop, it sometimes helps to look at the album in its singularity. In this case, even though the new sound is not want more old-time fans wanted, Weezer have succeeded in making a few good pop songs and breaking away from their sound, which Cuomo did state was the intention of Pacific Daydream. ‘Feels Like Summer’ is extremely over-produced but has such a catchy chorus with Cuomo’s impressive but AutoTuned falsetto vocals – I can’t help but admit that a part of me does like it. In this respect Weezer seem to have achieved what they wanted which was to create a more pop-influenced summery sound however, this may be a step too far for hard-bitten fans.
Pacific Daydream is far from a terrible album, but at the same time it’s nothing special. It’s harmless but uninspiring. Hopefully the next self-titled Weezer record, due to be known as The Black Album, will have more of an edge to it when it comes out in 2018. (5/10) (Sandie Garland)
Listen to Pacific Daydream by Weezer here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Atlantic, Brian Bell, Crush, Pacific Daydream, Patrick Wilson, review, Rivers Cuomo, Sandie Garland, Scott Shriner, Weezer
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