Weezer – Van Weezer (Was the year’s wait worth it?)
We’ve had to wait a whole year for power-pop legends Weezer to drop their 15th studio album, and some things are worth waiting for.
Van Weezer is the band’s second release of 2021, followingJanuary’s OK Human. My personal distaste in that record along with most Weezer releases since 2016 did not give me high expectations for what looked to be another gimmick from the band.
With a title like ‘Van Weezer’ you would assume you’re either going to get some Van Halen or hair metal references. Weezer and Rivers Cuomo have never been shy of referencing their influences such as mentioning Kiss on their debut album. There are moments that relate to 80’s hair metal, but it once again feels like another Weezer album. It’s like they have a formula they can’t escape.
I don’t want to sound too negative once again like in my past reviews, as there were moments on Van Weezer I quite enjoyed which was surprising. Although I thought we were expecting instant Van Halen references, that style of music doesn’t come in until the third track, The End Of The Game.
The opening track, Hero has a classic Weezer sound to it with chugging guitars, anthemic choruses, and Cuomo trying to be down with the kids. It’s one of the most accessible and pop-orientated tracks the band has ever released. Its easy-going vibe is a struggle to be hooked onto from a band that usually kicks things off with a solid opening track. Nonetheless, that chorus will be stuck in your head because you hear it an insane amount of times. Rivers is still getting help from other artists with his songwriting, with Hero including Daniel Bedingfield.
All The Good Ones had me worried because the verse’s rhythm literally sounded like a sequel to Beverly Hills, one of the bands most recognised and hated songs. The chorus is once again catchy with nice harmonisation from Cuomo, but that riff continues.
The End Of The Game kicks in with finger tapping guitars and progresses into a classic Van Halen rhythm. Once the vocals come in, however, it just feels like any Weezer song from the last twenty years… maybe they did Van Halen years ago and didn’t realise? Another anthemic chorus shows how huge these songs will be live. So far it’s the most enjoyable track on the record and is a memorable Weezer song that just needs a kick-ass solo.
I Need Some Of That, has that classic Weezer flare from the guitars where the lead riffs work alongside the vocals. The lyrics are another nostalgic Cuomo effort, with references to Aerosmith and Marshall Amplifiers. The chorus is ridiculous because it doesn’t go anywhere. The only thing I can assume Rivers is needing is this engulfing of rock music, but “I need some of that (…) this is where it’s at” feels like more lazy writing. At this point I felt there I was past the point of no return. There are also interpolations from Asia and Blue Oyster Cult in the track.
Beginning Of The End, which was used for the soundtrack to Bill & Ted Face The Music is a minute of build up before your usual Weezer chord drop. It’s a track with classic Weezer written all over it and sees a ripping guitar solo. It picked my ears right back up and I’m sure even hardcore Weezer fans of their early work can get on with this piece.
Blue Dream is an embarrassing piece of work and makes me dream or if anything, yearn for the Blue Album. The riff is literally Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. The band has already butchered Black Sabbath on their Teal Album and they’re back for more. The vocal variety in the chorus is the only acceptable praise I can give. It’s one thing to be inspired by this era, it’s another thing to be playing someone else’s music on your new record.
1 More Hit gives me hopes of Weezer making a thrash album. It’s the best song on the album for me which sees Weezer become the heaviest they’ve ever sounded in the second half of the track. The chorus is cosy and warm like something from Weezer’s 2000’s era. The metal-esc riff is so unexpected and the drumming from Patrick Wilson is exciting. Please Weezer, we need more heavy chugs.
As we come to the latter half of Van Weezer, Sheila Can Do It and She Needs Me are harmless throwaway rock tracks that you could put on any Weezer album. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them, but they didn’t catch my attention like the previous tracks. Although most catch my attention for negative reasons so if anything this can only be a good things.
Precious Metal Girl is a return to the softer and more acoustic-based closer from Weezer. The guitars sound like a previous Weezer track, Endless Bummer which was a bonus track on The White Album. Rivers sings about this valuable metal girl who is donned in classic metal fan attire. It’s a sweet and innocent closer with a track that feels like one of Rivers more vulnerable moments like on Pinkerton. It’s a track I’ll have on repeat this year and has the sound of if Neutral Milk Hotel went pop.
Even though Van Weezer has its difficult and continuing embarrassing moments from Weezer, for me it might just be the best thing the band has put out since The White Album. The guitars are versatile and there’s both the classic Weezer sound, but also hints of something different. I hope they continue to explore in a new direction, though I imagine there’s another gimmick around the corner. Seeing as touring looks to be delayed further, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the band head back into the studio.