Rockin' Our Turntable: Weezers' 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End'
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 10, 2014 7:00PM
Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
It's become a running joke that with each new Weezer album comes the promise that the band has "returned to their roots." That is to say, they've replicated the magic of their first two albums that garnered the band the fervent following they now enjoy. And each time, with perhaps the exception of Maladroit, they haven't exactly delivered on that repeated promise. So with their latest, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, have they finally delivered?
Yes, the new album marks the return of Ric Ocasek as producer, and his surgical hand has cut much of the excess that marred the band's more recent efforts. However, can an album purported to bring us back to the original Weezer really do so when just about every song includes multiple songwriting credits outside of the band? Is this a return to form or a really faithful facsimile of a bygone era?
First, let's address the issue of just how stupid it is to ask a band that is over 20 years into their career to try and be the band they were at their onset. Rivers Cuomo has admitted that he actually sought the consultation of fans to help get the band back on track, and in that light, the new album succeeds admirably. It's easily the most solidly listenable thing the band has released in eons that won't require reams of caveats from longtime fans. Outside songwriters aside, the tunes on this album do hew pretty closely to the aesthetic of the Weezer of yore, and there's not an embarrassing offering in the bunch. We can overlook the fact that a song like "Da Vinci" borrows liberally from "Pork And Beans" because the former feels like an honest sentiment while the latter was a witty play on words and nerdy jokes. So they haven't exactly left all previous material by the wayside.
There are definite nods to the past, and we don't just mean the overt overtures offered by a song like "Back In The Shack" that basically lay out Weezer's credo for this outing. "Go Away" sees Cuomo and crew revisiting ancient dynamics by bringing in Best Coast's Beth Consentino to take on the duet counterfoil role that Rachel Haden of that dog. performed during the Pinkerton years, and it works to a great positive effect. But it's also emblematic of the band's approach to re-appropriate previous sounds in an effort to deliver on that promise to finally produce another great Weezer album to please older fans.
Everything Will Be Alright In The End succeeds partially as a science experiment. Indeed Weezer is mining previous territory for familiarity while still experimenting with vocal delivery and sneaking in some more proggish song structure from time to time to keep things feeling fresh. And the math here works in the band's favor. The album also features some of the more straightforward lyrics and impassioned delivery that we've seen from Cuomo in years. Nothing on the album is a gross misstep, and while we can't shake the feeling that too much thought went into making this piece of work feel like "classic Weezer" we can't really complain about that. If fans have been clamoring for years to just see Cuomo and crew return to the garage and churn out some unpretentious pop, they've finally got it. Even if that garage does have a bunch of other folks hovering in the rafters to poke and tweak the final product.
Ultimately we think people that keep hoping Weezer will return to being the band they fell in love with is foolish. Let's face it, only two members remain from that first Blue album, and one of those two has preferred to spend more time behind a guitar and let a session drummer handle the studio work, so how exactly can you ask Weezer to be the band they were in 1994? But, even with that in mind, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is a best case scenario for Weezer, showcasing a group that is now a small corporation still capable of making music that sounds like it was written, yes, in your neighbor's garage.