in Retrospecticus

Retrospecticus: Weezer

It’s been 14 years since Weezer’s breakthrough debut album and here we are now just a day away from the release of their sixth studio album Weezer (The Red Album). Thus in honor of this I decided to put together a retrospective or “Retrospecticus: if you will (because it sounds funny) of these Alternative rock trailblazer’s albums thus far.

Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994)

Rising out of the L.A. club scene in the early nineties Weezer was only together for a few years by the time their demo tape had caught the attention of a major record label. So in the summer of 1993 they headed into the studio with Ric Ocasek producing and set out to make the 90s Rock classic that is Weezer (The Blue Album). By combining a unique quirkiness with clever pop hooks and a heavy rock guitar edge, Weezer created an incredibly unique sound for the time. In an era dominated mostly by grunge, Weezer managed to breakthrough with catchy numbers like “Buddy Holly” or the offbeat “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and mark their territory in the 90s rock scene. Simply put this was a perfect start for these geek-chic rockers and a good sign of things to come.

Favorite Tracks: “Buddy Holly”, “Surf Wax America”, “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here”

Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)

Soon after the success of The Blue Album front-man Rivers Cuomo began working on material for what would most likely be Weezer’s next album Songs from the Black Hole but unfortunately this never quite took off, so Weezer started the production of a different album. Featuring a handful of songs written even before Weezer’ first album, along with a few new one’s and a couple originally slated for Songs from the Black Hole,Weezer made their brilliant follow up Pinkerton. Reflecting a more personal side of Rivers Cuomo song-writing and an even heavier sound for Weezer, Pinkerton was a more straightforward rock album. Though their quirkiness remained primarily on the album’s most popular track “El Scorcho”. Though this album struggled to find success with its less commercial sound it’s caught on over the years and become a staple of 90s rock. Personally I’m torn between this and The Blue Album as my favorite Weezer album but I suppose when a band can do that for you it should be considered a good thing.

Favorite Tracks: “The Good Life”, “Getchoo”, “Pink Triangle”

Weezer – Weezer (The Green Album) (2001)

Many moons had passed between the commercial failure of Weezer’s misunderstood Pinkerton and their return to success with another self-titled album Weezer (The Green Album) A lot had happened in this 7 year hiatus including the departure of former bassist Matt Sharp, River Cuomo’s continuing isolation and other members various side projects. Luckily by 2000 (After an offer to play together at a festival in Japan) Weezer was again inspired to make music. WIth the recruitment of new bassist Mikey Welsh, Weezer went through over a hundred demos until winding it down to ten and headed back into the studio reuniting with producer Ric Ocasek. The result was a tight and heavy 28 minutes of classic Weezer Pop/Rock. With popular singles such as the risque “Hash Pipe” and the laid back “Island in the Sun”, Weezer was back on top and with quite a punch.

Favorite Tracks: “Hash Pipe”, “Photograph”, “Island in the Sun”

Weezer – Maladroit (2002)

Following up the success of Weezer (The Green Album) was yet another commercial success for Weezer with their 2002 album Maladroit (This being the first album with new bassist Scott Shriner). Weezer went about production this time around with fans having opportunity to choose which tracks to include on the new album (Being given a selection of 30 or so online). Unfortunately I am sorry to say that at this point I have to disagree with the popular opinion. This being that I can’t find the same liking for 2002’s Maladroit as so many others do. I find that though there is still some fun tunes like “Dope Nose” or the Costelloesque number “Keep Fishin”, a majority of these songs are lacking the creative flair and ingenuity of previous Weezer works. I mean when a band has to resort to having their fans help them put together an album, you have to question if they are a little burned out musically. I mean that’s a pretty gimmicky stunt, I’d say they should have waited a little longer to start work on another album, because if you ask me, Weezer just sounds like any other mainstream rock band on this album. I suppose as long as a majority of fans liked it, it was a good move for them but it certainly left me cold.

Favorite Tracks: “Dope Nose”, “Keep Fishin”, “Burndt Jamb”

Weezer – Make Believe (2005)

A few years passed and Weezer once again (after sifting through various demos) were ready to make an album. Teaming up this time with notable producer Rick Rubin, Weezer made yet again another popular Rock/Pop album entitled Make Believe. Another more mainstream record boosted by the success of it’s lead off single “Beverly Hills” (the bands most successful single to date) Personally I found the song “Beverly Hills” to be somewhat uninspired. Not a particularly inventive lyrically or even that original of a progression, topped off with a Talk Box sounding guitar solo. These aren’t the elements that drew my interest to Weezer and I was said to see some of that lacking on this album. Though there is a handful of mildly pleasing tracks. “We Are All on Drugs” and “Perfect Situation” are nice little numbers so I found it to even out as an alright album.

Favorite Tracks: “Perfect Situation”, “We Are All on Drugs”, “My Best Friend”

Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album) (2008)
What will the future hold for the fate of Weezer’s latest album? Early reviews are all over the place from bad to pretty good, but nonetheless I’m excited. Especially with Weezer’s return to their nerdier roots and more experimental tracks like “Pork and Beans” or “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”. I’m not sure what to think quite yet of what I’ve already heard, but time will tell. You can definitely expect to see a review on this blog later this week.

The Lost Album
Weezer – Songs From the Black Hole
As I previously mentioned, after Weezer’s debut album, Rivers Cuomo began working on a space rock opera as the subject of Weezer’s next album. Though after about a year of demoing and recording, the idea was abandoned and forever lost in a sea of lost albums. Luckily a handful of these tracks have surfaced today in one way or another. A few songs such as “Getchoo”, “Tired of Sex”, “No Other One” and “Why Bother?” even managed to make it on to Pinkerton. Along with a few others appearing on River Cuomo’s album Alone – The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. From what I’ve researched and heard, I believe that this probably could of been a pretty good album. It’s sad to see that it fell apart, but at the same time we got Pinkerton so I guess it all worked out for the best.

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