Weezer have entered a very interesting stage in their career. That band has released three albums of brand new material since 2008, not to mention an album of previously unreleased tracks, a Christmas EP, and an expanded version of their 1996 classic Pinkerton. With such an output, the band has forced fans like myself to keep up, which means a constant regimen Weez listening.
It’s made me stop and take stock of the near 20-year-old band. The history of Weezer fandom is long and complicated and ultimately boring. Weezer’s ability to polarize fans – you other love ’em or you hate ’em – is why I like them. The band’s got a narrative. They’ve had their lulls and down moments, but they compel me to listen further because I simply don’t know what is coming next.
So today I decided to listen to all of Weezer’s albums, stray recordings, and Rivers demos, and to approach it chronologically. I’ll just kind of make notes as I go.
About 11 a.m. – The Blue Album (Deluxe Edition)
Still just puts me in such a good mood. On the first sunny day of the year I always put this album on, especially if I’m making the 80-mile trek down to Seattle. One of my favorite things with grunge/post grunge music is that it sounded like it was having genuine fun sounding “slackery.” Whatever that might mean. Early Beck is also a good example of this.
Bonus tracks on this are great. I am still just blown away by how good “Suzanne,” “Mykel and Carli,” and “Jamie” are. I remember “Jamie” from the DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 cassette I bought and played into the ground in 6th and 7th grade. I remember stealing $5 from a friend in order to go buy the tape, but I like to think that I made a good investment with my dishonesty. I really liked that tape, and I still think “Einstein on the Beach” is the best song the Counting Crows ever recorded.
About noon – Pinkerton (Deluxe Edition)
I sharted when I found out about the 4LP release of this. Ever since I started my record collection about two years ago, I’ve dreamed of owning Pinkerton, an album that will always rank among my top five.
So much of me thinks it was Weezer’s dormant period after this both blessed and cursed the band. Yes, it gave Pinkerton a chance for its audience to develop, but that same audience put the record on an unrealistic pedestal, myself included. A lot of Tool fans did the same thing with Ænima. So in May 2001 when Green and Lateralus were released on the same day, it was just a little bit anticlimactic.
I was in 9th grade when this album came out, and I remember taping Weezer’s performance at Shorecrest High School, so it’s great to hear these songs again.
As I get to the bonus content, I realize that I’ve only had the chance to listen to some of these songs once or twice. It’s cool to hear old Weezer songs for the first time, and these are pretty good.
I remember thinking the first time through these four records that different versions of “The Good Life” showed up entirely too much. I love this song, but too much repetition of anything can wear on you.
Duet on “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams.” I guess Rivers partnered with someone before Lil’ Wayne after all. Oh wait, didn’t Rivers guest on a Limp Bizkit song back in the day too?
Yep. Definitely too many versions of “The Good Life.”
Very happy that there’s an alternative version of “Butterfly” on here. The whole fourth record is pretty great, actually. “Getting Up and Leaving” and the track before hint at a larger Pinkerton project.
I wish the tracks were ordered better. Perhaps something like B-sides, unreleased, live, then remixes. Oh well.
About 2:30 – The Green Album
I remember sitting in the lecture hall during my Intro to Logic class one day when I noticed someone had scrawled some of the lyrics to “Knock Down Drag Out” on the desk. Underneath, I replied with some of the lyrics to “Butterfly.” When I sat at the same desk again a week later, the girl had replied that “Butterfly” was one of her favorite songs ever, and there was an e-mail address beneath it. To this day, I wonder why I never dropped her a line. In my mind she was a hot geeky chick, but that would be too predictable, wouldn’t it?
Besides this memory, I was pretty disappointed with this record. Nowadays I find the album interesting as a kind of dissection of the standard pop formula, but I always felt it was lacking any real enthusiasm. It wasn’t that they went back to a more produced sound. That was fine, but I was hoping this album would be more of a celebration.
Perhaps the off-putting thing about this album is that it sounds angry while trying to sound happy. It’s a very confusing mix of emotions for such simple songs.
I went through all of high school without a new Weezer album, and those are some pretty opinion-forming years. Couple that with the huge shift in popular music from the mid-90s to the early 00s and it’s really not the band’s fault that this didn’t impress me more. I was stoked they were back, but I was worried about their future.
About 3:15 – Maladroit
Whatever I may have felt about Green,I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, considering this album came out only about a year later. From the opening beat of “American Gigolo” the band essentially promises that this is something different than the last record. It breaks the ten-song-an-album rule, most songs come in at less than three minutes, and unconventional song structures are a little more common.
In a lot of ways, this is the antithesis to Green. It’s brash and full of swagger and directly confronts the band’s whiny fans with songs like “Slob.” I especially get a kick out of “Burnt Jamb,” and “Death and Destruction,” and still feel like I would have enjoyed more of that kind of Weezer.
A lot of people I know didn’t like this record, and in fact I a lot of my friends gave up on the band right around this time, but I remember feeling like my faith was restored with this one, and I still feel like it’s the best album of their middle period. It’s not perfect and feels half baked at times, but the energy is great.
Tomorrow, I begin with The Lion and the Witch.