The story of Weezer may just be one of the most tragic in rock music since the ‘90s. In 1994, they exploded on to the scene with one of the best albums of that decade. Nirvana had just imploded, and with the success of the Blue Album, combined with what hinted at the beginning of the downfall of grunge, many people were convinced that Weezer’s sound would be the sound that dominated the rest of the decade. But two years later, Pinkerton was released, and everything changed. While the overall style of the Blue Album persisted, Pinkerton was a smaller, more personal effort. Critics panned it on release, many believing it to be emotionally honest to an uncomfortable and creepy degree. In response to this widespread media attack on his most honest work, frontman and primary songwriter Rivers Cuomo didn’t release another album for five more years, and this time, his personality was nowhere to be found. Throughout the 21st century, Weezer have been churning out bland, distant pop rock tunes with meaningless lyrics, cheap sounding production, and half-baked hooks and melodies. Until now. Everything Will Be Alright in the End plays out like an apology letter, and as someone who has been eagerly hoping for them to reclaim some semblance of their former glory, I think I’m ready to accept.
The lyrics on this album aren’t particularly deep, but the common theme seems to be the struggle between what makes Rivers happy, what makes his fans happy, and how to effectively balance this. Pinkerton levels of emotional honesty may have eventually gained him acclaim years after release, but the situation surrounding the album made him miserable. Making safe music like the Green Album onward made him feel comfortable, but was seen as a betrayal towards his fans. The lyrics are apologies and explanations to his fans about the decisions he’s made about Weezer’s music up until now, and they’re effective, to a degree. Over the course of the album it can get a bit tiring, but this is the most genuine Rivers Cuomo has been on a Weezer album since Pinkerton, and it’s quite refreshing, if not varied or always eloquent.
The sense of melody is really where this album shines. As far as how well these songs are written musically, to stick in your head immediately upon listen, this is a great group of songs. Musically, the album strikes an interesting balance between the instantly infectious ‘90s material and something new altogether. Weezer are playing with sounds and the idea of dynamics more than ever, they’re willing to play around with long instrumental passages, they sound adventurous, while still maintaining a firm grasp on their pop sensibilities. Ideally, this is how I want them to sound. I’d like to include a warning, however. The first two tracks, “Ain’t Got Nobody” and “Back to the Shack”, are by far the worst on the album, and unfortunately are placed at the front to give you an inaccurate idea of how the album is going to be. The fantastic third track, “Eulogy for a Rock Band”, serves as a far better opener, and I’d recommend staring there. From this point to album climax “Foolish Father”, Weezer is back as a premier band, but reinvented, with material approaching their best. The closing three serve as an epilogue suite. Interesting, but perhaps a bit inconsequential, considering the impact of “Foolish Father”.
There’s no doubt in my mind that “Foolish Father” is the best Weezer song in 18 years. In fact, it’s as good as anything they’ve ever done. I don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’ve heard “Only in Dreams” off of the Blue Album, remember how that makes you feel. When the choral female vocals kick in, it’s the most spine tingling a Weezer song has been since that masterpiece. As a whole, this isn’t as good as the Blue Album or Pinkerton, slip ups like “Back to the Shack” make that impossible. But nobody should’ve expected it to be, and it’s far better than I expected it to be. For the first time in 18 years, Weezer sound passionate and hungry, determined to craft meaningful art that strikes the balance between critical and commercial success. If they can continue to build upon this effort, maybe everything will be alright in the end.
By Travis Shosa