Weezer’s ‘White Album’ is a successful return to style

Weezer's newest album, "The White Album." (MTSU Sidelines / FILE)

Alternative rock legends Weezer released their tenth studio album Friday. This record is Weezer’s fourth self-titled release and has been aptly subtitled White Album in a similar fashion to its blue, green and red predecessors.

I will be one of the first to admit that I have lost an eagerness I once expressed to hear new music from Weezer. The band’s freshman and sophomore releases from 1994 and 1996 are two of my favorite albums, but the band’s two decades of music since have fallen pretty flat for me personally.

However, White Album is something special.

From my initial listen, I was not impressed. I didn’t necessarily dislike it, but one listen was not enough to make me realize that this album is truly the proper follow-up to the band’s first two indie rock masterpieces. If one is willing to put aside the disappointment spawning from the likes of 2001’s Green Album, 2005’s Make Believe and 2009’s Raditude, one can become aware of this:

For the first time in many years, Weezer does not sound like boring, forced pop rock. Weezer sounds like Weezer.

White Album’s opening track, “California Kids,” paints a mental picture as chimes twinkle over the sounds of seagulls and a clean, electric guitar melody. The sounds portray some familiarity but also generate feelings of freshness and revival. Frontman Rivers Cuomo softly, but briskly, croons over chugging, muted guitars. When the band finally launches into the heavy-hitting “Say It Ain’t So” style hook, listeners will know that the next half hour of music may very well be the triumphant return of Weezer they have been waiting for.

The album’s second track “Wind In Our Sail” is my current favorite. The verses teeter along over an instrumental primarily composed of plunking piano chords and a punchy drum groove. In classic Weezer fashion, the song contains obscure references to subjects like Darwin and Mendel but manages to maintain its catchiness. The hook is one that any listener may find himself or herself singing along to because it’s that infectious.

Further into the album are two of its singles, “Do You Wanna Get High?” and “King Of The World.” Both are enjoyable in their own right, but for different reasons. “Do You Wanna Get High?” is great because it sounds strikingly like older Weezer. The song, which darkly equates recreational pill use to falling in love, sways along as Cuomo seemingly falls deeper into his trip. “King Of The World” is one of poppier cuts and yet another one of Cuomo’s homages to love. Despite its mildly generic sound, the song is a fun, stadium-ready rocker.

The only songs I have yet to develop a particularly fondness for are “Thank God For Girls,” “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” and “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori.” However, I don’t despise any of these three tracks. My complaints with them are that they either sound like re-hashes of older concepts I didn’t like the first time, or I simply think the album’s seven other songs are noticeably more suited to my tastes.

All in all, White Album is like the Star Wars: The Force Awakens of Weezer’s catalog: a long-awaited sequel and monumental glimmer of hope following three prequel movies (or in this case, seven albums) you wish you could forget. Rivers Cuomo is still a hopelessly romantic dork, the sound is much more polished, and, most importantly, the songs on White Album stick. I find myself singing them when I’m not listening to them. This album isn’t a compilation of mediocre filler with one or two decent tracks i.e. Red Album and Hurley.

Weezer may never top Blue Album or Pinkerton, but to classify White Album as just a step in the right direction would be a grand understatement.

Follow Evan Dunne on Twitter at @RippedDanger.

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To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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