Weezer – The White Album: It’s Not Pinkerton But It’ll Do.

the white albumNOTHING IS EVER going to be Pinkerton again and maybe that’s a good thing. It has to be around twenty years since Weezer released what is still regarded as their best album, but the problem with releasing your best album early in your career is you can never again capture that exact cocktail of excitement, youthful energy and precise magic that makes an all -time great. After that you can still make good albums, but you’ll never be back at that one moment when everything came together perfectly (Many might think of this as Arctic Monkeys Syndrome). Yet doesn’t mean that you should just stop because sometimes, it’s just good to make something fun and just in time for summer.

Forming the now fourth part of Weezer’s self-titled Colours album cycle, The White Album is possibly the most fun it sounds like the band have been having since their debut. This is because it takes it back to basics for most tracks sticking to bass, drums and some guitars with a few pianos and sleigh bells thrown in for colour. But for the most part, the album’s simplicity is its virtue. Keeping the virtues of modern surf and slacker punk sounds like Wavves or Mac Demarco, the album lasts a brief 35 minutes with its longest track coming in at just over four minutes (though it must be said, with much slicker production than those bands I mentioned), it’s a brief little album that doesn’t waste any time and is all the better for it.

Rivers Cuomo has never been known for having truly impressive pipes but he has a better understanding of intonation and vocal performance than a lot of his post-grunge ilk and he really manages to sell the repressed melancholy underpinning a lot of the songs. Also I’m happy to report that finally on ‘Thank God For Girls’ we have a good entry into the canon of Rivers Cuomo tries to rap (Yes, ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ had its goofy charms but it wasn’t exactly what you’d call ‘good’). For the most part, the album is more Blue than Pinkerton as it has its sad moments but it never goes full self-loathing.

If the album has a major issue, it’s that it’s too clean. Especially on the imminently forgettable ‘(Girl We Got) A Good Thing’, the production and guitars are so slick, they’re almost John Travolta’s hair in Pulp Fiction (I can do contemporary references) but the shiny, happy songs always felt a little insincere with this band. Compare it to album highlight ‘Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori’, a mini-masterpiece of upbeat miserable character study and it becomes clear that the band are better when they aren’t trying too hard. It’s a problem that plagued Raditude, Hurley, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, they tried too hard to be the band they were before without ever just stopping and being them. Equally, a fine enough song in its own right but second track ‘Wind In Our Sails’ feels too much a ‘song over the trailer to a middling but uplifting indie comedy’ to not be a hint irritating.

I still can’t decide if album closer ‘Endless Bummer’ is meant to be such a damp squib considering its name or if it’s just an anticlimactic ending to another-wise incredibly solid collection of tracks with only a few notable duds amongst them (The aforementioned ‘A Good Thing’ and the oddly frenetic penultimate track ‘Jacked Up’). Maybe it’s just a think to accept that Weezer are not a band for whom acoustic guitars work that well, once the track kicks it improves but thats three minutes into a four minute song. But for a band going as long as Weezer, to still have as much energy as still as much to offer as in their heyday. You aren’t going to have an out-of-body experience listening to The White Album, it won’t change your life but if you want half an hour of good summer jams, this is your place.

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