By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Crush Music / Atlantic; 2019]
Key tracks: “Piece of Cake”, “Byzantine”
Weezer already dropped an album less than two months ago. So, why is there suddenly another one? Does Rivers Cuomo have literally nothing better to do than crank out pure cheese and not the kind that anyone likes? Weezer (Black Album) is no different than the last few albums: it’s full of tracks that are disjointed, confusing and hollow.
Read more: Album Review: Weezer – Weezer (Teal Album)
Every song is just a big question mark. Is the album a lament to L.A. and the culture that surrounds it? Is it a commentary on society, or is it all just a joke? Weezer tries to open with “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, which has lyrics like “My manager’s slacking so I gotta move quick / I’m lacking in natural gifts / I’m an ugly motherfucker, but I work hella harder / And you can write a blog about it” and “Higher education is the key to escape / But I never learned to roll a joint” and a section where Cuomo sings “See you later” in Spanish (“hasta luego”).
“Living in L.A.” is a great example of the convoluted themes on this album. Cuomo never really says anything, and with a chorus of “This girl I like / I’m talking ’bout this girl I like / But I feel so lonely, feel so lonely / Uh, uh, yeah, I’m living in L.A.,” Cuomo doesn’t describe his love interest nor why he’s so bummed about being in the city. How much more vapid can we get? “Piece of Cake” has a similar vibe, with lines like “She cut me like a piece of cake,” which repeat over and over. It opens with a line that is so reminiscent of a previous Weezer choice, “We Are All On Drugs”, that it’s jarring.
The production and the orchestration are less than sparkling, and each track has a familiarity that’s hard to put a finger on. Though it’s musically and thematically less beachy and breezy than the previous albums, it shares the common thread of missing the heavier guitar and bass moments that Weezer’s earlier music used so well. The occasional wailing guitar solo will gasp for air but is quickly drowned out.
The high points of this album are on tracks that Cuomo didn’t write. “Byzantine”, one of the strangest, yet most satisfying tracks has lyrics written by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and takes a lot of inspiration from French-pop via 1960. It’s weird but seems a lot more creative than many of the other tracks.
At this point, Rivers Cuomo is just doing his thing. But his thing has passed its expiration date a long time ago. It’s hard to be ironic forever. The most telling track has to be “I’m Just Being Honest”, where the first verse is “Walk into the venue, you slipped me your CD / Asked me if I’d listen, give you my critique / I listened to it, but halfway through it / I had to quit, your band sounds like shit.”