Weezer was all set up to have a righteous 2020. They, alongside Fall Out Boy and Green Day, were set to tour the arena circuit on the Hella Mega Tour. It was poised to be the biggest “semi-past-their-prime” tour of our generation and honestly, if you had the chance, why wouldn’t you attend?
To coincide with the tour, Weezer announced an album called Van Weezer, which was shaping up to be as ridiculous as it sounded. The two singles released pre-COVID were cheesily epic homages to ’80s hair metal, with killer guitar riffs aplenty.
Then, the tour was cancelled. Or postponed. Whatever. And with it, so was the album.
But fear not, Weezer fans! Since Rivers Cuomo cranks out songs in the same prolificity as Hallmark cranks out terrible original Christmas movies, there was a whole other Weezer album practically ready to see the light of day. OK Human was supposed to be Van Weezer’s counterpart, though it was actually recorded first. Van Weezer was crafted to complement their tour, so they put OK Human on hold and… you know what? Don’t worry about it. Point is they write a lot of music.
Weezer’s catalogue has always been a head-scratcher. Their seminal debut belongs in every music fan’s record collection, whereas elsewhere they actually named a record Raditude (2009), which featured some unnecessary assistance from newly-pardoned rock star Lil Wayne. Setting aside their extensive, polarizing catalogue, it’s important to note that it has been nearly 30 years since the Blue Album (1994) came out. That makes OK Human their 14th original record, and it’s way better than it has any right to be.
This time around, Rivers and co. did something they’ve never done before: they assembled a full orchestra whose arrangements are the basis for the entire record. Yes, who would have thought classical stringed instruments would be part of the reason for Weezer’s second resurgence? (Their first being the Everything Will be Alright In The End (2014), White Album (2016) one-two punch from a few short years ago.) Other than drums, the orchestra serves as the majority of the album’s musicianship. Not only that, but the orchestral arrangements connect every song; it’s as if you’re listening to the score of a play.
Lyrically, it’s about what we’ve come to expect from Rivers. 14 albums into their career, and it still seems as if Rivers is smirking at the ends of some of his witty – often cheesy – lyrics. But somehow, this seems to be his most direct, personal record since Pinkerton (1996). ‘Playing My Piano’ is one of the better songs about life in quarantine I’ve heard to date, while ‘Here Comes the Rain’ is a breezy, upbeat tune with plenty of nods to The Beatles.
The melodies are fantastic across the board, escalating some otherwise run-of-the-mill songs to entirely new heights. ‘Grapes of Wrath’ may be the first song ever to reference digital bookstore “Audible” by name, which I promise is a lot less silly than it sounds. And, at the risk of channeling too much of Rivers’s wryness, lead track ‘All My Favorite Songs’ immediately found a spot on my list of favourite Weezer songs.
On paper, Weezer releasing a record in 2021 should be a formula for mediocrity. But against all odds, they just dropped one of the best albums of their career.
Haiku Review: I kid you not, friends: Weezer’s attempt at Pet Sounds Is pretty damn awesome.