By: RJ Martin
[Atlantic Records; 2021]
Key tracks: “All My Favorite Songs”, “Here Comes The Rain”, “La Brea Tar Pits”
What if after Green Day proudly proclaimed their most recent album had “no features, no swedish songwriters, no trap beats, just 100% pure uncut rock” it actually turned out to be pretty decent despite the overwhelming snobbery? Well, you don’t have to imagine, because after a lackluster performance on their most recent records, Weezer seems to have done just that. A few weeks ago, ahead of the release of OK Human, the band took to Instagram to explain that the album was made with a time “when humans really mattered and when the dark tech-takeover fantasy didn’t exist” in mind. The album was made all analogue with a ’60s/’70s sound in mind, which isn’t a new concept.
Read more: Album Review: Weezer – Weezer (Black Album)
Despite the band’s bemoaning of the current state of music, the project turned out delightfully good. It sports immaculate production, and hones the sound of the 1960s incredibly well. Jake Sinclair returns as producer for the first time since Weezer (White Album), and demonstrates that what the band needs is quite possibly a producer with a good helping hand. The instrumentation, especially the drums, are probably the strongest part of this record.
The drums’ almost over-compressed and dry sound is straight out of ’60s psych rock. They almost come off overbearing at times, sounding reminiscent of Kevin Parker or his contemporaries, but most of the time they glue the infectious grooves together. In addition, the full 38-piece orchestra seems like it would be a little overbearing as well, but it actually feels like part of the rhythm section the way it consistently grooves with the drums and bass.
The instrumentation and production is definitely the strongest part of this album, and past that it starts to fall into classic Weezer entrapments. Most of the songs are sufficiently catchy, but the record is top heavy in its energy. The first few tracks, especially “All My Favorite Songs”, “Aloo Gobi” and “Grapes Of Wrath”, are some of the strongest on the album with their incredibly strong grooves and fun, catchy melodies. These elements are what end up carrying most of the songs throughout the album because Rivers’ lyric-writing is absurd at worst, and mild-mannered at best.
One of the best pieces of lyric writing on the album happens around the middle, with “Playing My Piano”, where Rivers describes his own personal isolation and its positives and negatives. It’s innocuous and actually somewhat interesting. But from there, on songs like “Screens”, we just get more ranting about technology and reminiscing of what Rivers would surely call “the good ‘ol days.”
The album ends with two of its best tracks, “Here Comes The Rain” and “La Brea Tar Pits”. The lyrics of both are just about playful scenarios and imagination, and they are easily the most catchy out of any of the 12 tracks. After the boring middle section of the album, these songs sort of wake you up, and they make you wonder where the energy was for the last 20 minutes. After “La Brea Tar Pits” ends, all you want is more, but you don’t get it.
While this album has some of the best production in the band’s career and a select few infectiously catchy songs, it’s not enough to merit it much more than a single enjoyable listen. Everything about it is great on paper, but it becomes too monotonous for its own good toward the middle.