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Weezer - Van Weezer (Album Review)

Monday, 17 May 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Sean Murphy

If there were such a thing as a musical conspiracy theorist they’d have a field day coming up with explanations for Weezer’s erratic output, possibly claiming the band’s strongest efforts are crafted by the actual Rivers Cuomo and company, before said foursome kick back and allow doppelgangers to produce utter dross such as the ‘Black’ album. Fortunately, ‘Van Weezer’, a joyous tribute to 1980s stadium rock, finds the real deal back in the saddle and firing on all their giddiest, geekiest cylinders.

Although a hair metal-inspired record might sound like another misguided flight of fancy that’s too far removed from the garage-dwelling teen angst of a ‘Blue’ album or ‘Pinkerton’, it’s allowed the band to play to their strengths in a way that toe-curling forays into rap, electronica and the orchestral manoeuvres of this year’s ‘OK Human’ didn’t.

They’re basically both guitar-based styles featuring great hooks, but the difference is that—and cliché be damned—the '80s rock scene turns everything up to 11, throwing subtlety out the hotel window and planting its hedonistic flag in polished, mainstream territory.  

Thus, the band’s grunged-up, indie guitars have become more razor-edged, intricate, colourful and classically riffy. Likewise, they’ve super-sized their  retro-pop melodies to produce the most consistently commercial and euphoric Weezer refrains since the ‘Green’ album.  

I Need Some Of That is such an unbridled celebration of teenage passion it’ll make you feel like a beaming cherub scoffing candyfloss. The End of the Game, meanwhile, is illuminated by a killer combo of Van Halen and Journey fretwork and there are slinky Def Leppard arpeggios here, a little Queen grandeur there, and harmony licks galore.  

Elsewhere, inventive turns confirm that both Cuomo and the band have been thoroughly inspired by their idols. Blue Dream uses that apocalyptic Rhandy Rhoads riff from Ozzy’s Crazy Train to propel a galloping banger and the exceptionally constructed 1 More Hit, which weaves an irresistibly catchy bridge around prowling Metallica riffage, casually hurls a little thrash into the mix for shits and giggles.

This isn’t a dreaded hair metal parody record, though, and ‘Van Weezer’ never descends into pastiche because of smart creative decisions. With his often wayward muse back in the building, and on best behaviour, Cuomo’s uses a balanced combination of musical reference points, and that genre’s escapist spirit, to deliver stadium rock Weezer style.  

As potent as the aforementioned hooks are, they’re still more Fountains of Wayne power-pop than the kind of bombastic, gang-chant choruses belted out by Dokken and Motley Crue. Six-string self-indulgence is also kept to a minimum, there isn’t an overblown power ballad in sight and Cuomo, thankfully, never attempts to replicate the sexually-charged, cocksure swagger of a David Lee Roth.  

Touching on stage fright, drug withdrawal and preferring outcast loner status to that of a traditional hero, alongside charmingly awkward relationship tales, his vulnerable confessions delight in subverting rock god cliches rather than striking inauthentic poses and, somewhat mercifully, going full Danger Danger. 

Buying enough goodwill so fans don’t get overly dejected when those pesky Weezer clones reappear soon, possibly armed with a soul destroying ‘Pink’ album that indulges their love of transcendental yodelling, ‘Van Weezer’ is basically just a shit-tonne-of-relentless-fun that, much like their finest records, leaves you wondering how on earth Weezer often get it so spectacularly wrong.

Weezer Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 24 2022 - LONDON Stadium Olympic Park
Sat June 25 2022 - HUDDERSFIELD John Smiths Stadium
Mon June 27 2022 - DUBLIN RDS Arena
Wed June 29 2022 - GLASGOW Green

Compare & Buy Weezer Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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