I have loved Weezer for as long as I can remember, and I’m sure most children of the ‘90s would agree with me. This band has been with me through thick and thin, from rocking out to “Buddy Holly” in the car with my dad to the time I sang “Island in the Sun” for a drama club benefit to my first ever music review on Everything Will Be Alright In The End (which I vigorously defended in high school but have since decided is just an “alright” album).
When I first saw the list of songs to be included on the album, I was less than dazzled by titles like “L.A. Girlz” and “Endless Bummer.” I was even concerned that Weezer would continue to pander to the masses by ditching their alt roots for a more modern pop flavor, much like their failed Raditude and Hurley albums. Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, The White Album appears to be Weezer’s second attempt at making a comeback into relevancy since Everything Will Be Alright In The End, which was not as successful as the band had hoped. While it is true that this album pales in comparison to the genius of Weezer’s eponymous Blue and Green Albums, it’s admirable that the band managed to return to the sound of its earlier works while still evoking a fresh, new sound in its latest concept album.
Weezer is a rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1992, which is why it’s no surprise the album is essentially a love letter to California. It currently consists of front man Rivers Cuomo along with Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner. Weezer’s first and most successful album, The Blue Album, was released in 1994 and soon became a triple-platinum success with hits like “Buddy Holly,” “Undone–The Sweater Song,” “Holiday,” and “Say It Ain’t So.”
Ever since then, Weezer has faced a lot of ups and downs with the success of its albums. The darker, grungier sound of Pinkerton in 1996 was initially a failure, but it is now considered a cult classic of the ‘90s with “El Scorcho” being the crown jewel in my opinion. Weezer’s second eponymous album, The Green Album, was also a commercial success in 2001 with “Hash Pipe” and “Island In The Sun” taking the lead. The band has been somewhat in a rut since then with Maladroit, Make Believe, and The Red Album receiving mixed reviews, Raditude and Hurley failing to latch onto modern pop music, and Death to False Metal being utterly forgettable. The White Album has been a godsend in this creative drought since Everything Will Be Alright In The End’s pleasant but ultimately unremarkable reception in 2014.
The White Album was released on April 1, 2016. It is Weezer’s fourth eponymous album and the tenth album released within the band’s career, which has spanned over twenty years. The album consists mostly of singles, namely “Thank God For Girls” and “Do You Wanna Get High?”, which were announced in 2015, and “King of the World,” “L.A. Girlz,” and “California Kids” from 2016. The overall concept is very “beach-y,” with a Beach Boys kind of feel, which is quite apparent on their most recent and most popular single “California Kids.” Cuomo has specifically stated that he drew inspiration from his experiences “hanging out with people in Venice and Santa Monica, the beach, the Hare Krishnas, the Sikh on roller blades with the guitar, girls on Tinder within a four-mile radius, seeing other bands, the kids from La Sera.” Weezer is currently on a Summer Tour with Panic! At The Disco and special guest Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness.
Although the parallels The White Album draws to the beachiness of The Blue Album and the angst of Pinkerton are welcome, what I admire most about this album is the lyrical insanity Cuomo embeds into each song. And don’t even get me started on the music videos. I did not think it was possible to surpass the craziness of Everything Will Be Alright In The End, which featured songs like “Eulogy For A Rock Band,” “Da Vinci,” “Cleopatra,” and “The British Are Coming.” On this album, the three songs with the most creative lyrics also happen to be the ones that are the least popular. For instance, “Thank God For Girls” is a strange rant about a girl making a cannoli. “King of the World” is an ode to Cuomo’s wife, Kyoko Ito, and her battle with anxiety. It even mentions “[riding] a Greyhound all the way to the Galapagos” since she’s afraid of flying. “L.A Girlz” whines about girls that treat Cuomo “like [he has] the plague” and need to “sweeten up [their] lemonade.” Even though these songs missed the mark, “California Kids,” “Jacked Up,” and “Endless Bummer” hit it spot-on.
From the instant I heard “California Kids” over spring break on the alt-radio station I somehow hooked my mom on, I knew it would be the most successful song on the album. As I previously mentioned, this song in particular really hones in on the Beach Boys theme with sweeping falsettos and catchy guitar work. In my opinion this song is so hopelessly optimistic that it’s almost melancholy. Check out these lyrics:
“It’s gonna be alright
If you’re on a sinking ship
The California kids
Will throw you a lifeline
And if you’re up all night
Thinking about some thing you did
The California kids
Will show you the sunshine.”
And then there’s “Jacked Up,” which is my personal favorite. This song definitely stands out from the rest because the piano is put in the spotlight rather than the guitar. I especially love how Cuomo still sounds like a love-struck teenager who is worried about losing some girl. There is a lot of uncertainty and vulnerability in this song which ultimately work to make it really beautiful. It opens with these apprehensive lyrics
“If I stay the night
Will we fall in love?
If I stroke your hair
It’s gonna hurt so much”
and ends on a very emotional note with the repetition of “I’m all jacked up/Over you” several times throughout the song.
Finally, the album ends with “Endless Bummer,” which puts a surprisingly mournful twist on this love letter of an album. The beginning starts off very despondently with the lyrics
“I just want this summer to end
What’s the point of trying to pretend?
She told me to follow the rules
Not all 19 year olds are cool”
and Cuomo eventually ends up in a fierier mood by the end, upset that this girl is over him. I’m somewhat disappointed that the album ended such a relatively fun and upbeat album with a song that is truly a bummer, but I suppose all good things must come to an end, including the summer.
Overall, The White Album is an optimistic album with a tinge of anxiety, starting with the excitement of “California Kids” and ending on a somber note with “Endless Bummer.” It’s also very easy to digest with only ten songs spanning a little over a half an hour. I think it’ll be a big hit over the summer, especially with college kids who can relate to most of these songs. Even so, it has no real “wow factor” and I fear it may be forgotten in only a matter of time, similarly to the plight of Everything Will Be Alright In The End.
If you want to continue to throw it back to the ‘90s, amp up your nostalgia with Cake, Marcy Playground, The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, blink-182, and Third Eye Blind.
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