Weezer’s 15th album is a heart-felt tribute to a beloved era of 80’s metal, when rock was glamorous and the electric guitar was king of all pop music. Affectionately titled Van Weezer, this is the most guitar-heavy of their latest releases. Extravagant riffs, double tapping, string sweeping, brash guitar solos and every type of guitar heroics are featured in this album. Yet despite this distinct difference in choices the band still sounds like the same Weezer, with their heavy leanings into power-pop and their grounded and relatable lyricism.
Rivers Cuomo and gang may already be in their 50’s, but in terms of musicality this album can make you feel like you’re back in the era of Pinkerton, reminiscing about the time you first picked up the guitar and looked up to your first musical heroes. These were the first impressions as I listened to the album opener “Hero”. This song goes full on glam rock with soaring riffs and a fist-pumping chorus that could rouse up a whole stadium. Yet there’s a somber undertone in here that feels personal: “Everybody needs a hero / But I’m not everybody else / I walk alone”. I find this as an allusion to how Weezer is the only one left standing from the 90’s era of alternative rock. What starts as a dream of going big progresses into a somber reflection for the band’s longevity. This idea is then followed-up by “All the Good Ones”, which I find is full of nostalgia as the main riff hearkens back to “Beverly Hills” – the very first Weezer song I heard. In this song Cuomo talks about a girl he met back in the day who plays guitar, but I’m getting strong vibes that this also alludes to a bygone era when guitar music dominated the airwaves.
I may be reading too much into it, but these ideas creep up again in “I Need Some of That” and “Beginning of the End”. The former chock full of nostalgia on listening to Aerosmith and the thought of “daydreaming of my escape”, with Cuomo proclaiming that “Even if we blow up / We’re never gonna grow up”. The latter talks about an apocalyptic era when a bomb would drop and “All our guitars will be hung in an old pawnshop”. While offering a tribute to the glorious ages of rock, Cuomo also channels his feelings on the good old times, all the while wrapping it up in fun pop tunes. Here lies the brilliance of Weezer, and why there’s no slowing down for these legends even when their peers slowly fade and hang their guitars up..
“Van Weezer” is not going to blow you away if you’ve followed the band’s older material, but as a fan looking for more songs to add to the Weezer canon, this album is nothing short of perfect.