Let’s face it, during the past few years Weezer have been more of a mainstream pop band than an alternative rock band on albums like Hurley and Raditude. Personally, I loved those albums. I just felt like they always had a pop element to their sound and they were just learning to embrace that. So, what some took as selling out I took as growth or even maturing. I also felt like the band were loosening up and having fun with their music, not driving themselves crazy trying to re-make earlier albums. But it would seem the band sympathized with those longtime fans who didn’t like their latest albums because their new album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, finds them working with producer/The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek once again, Ocasek having previously produced their two self-titled albums commonly referred to as “the blue album” and “the green album.” And if those are your favorite Weezer records then you’re sure to love it, as it finds the band fully immersed in their alt rock roots once again. That said, their songs are still extremely catchy, bursting with killer hooks and resplendent choruses. The biggest differences are that the guitars are cranked up a bit louder and the overall sound of the album is somewhat stripped down.
The album opens with “Ain’t Got Nobody,” which is about not having someone to love you and really, really wishing that you did. It begins with a little girl telling her mother that she had another nightmare. “Go back to sleep, honey, everything will be all right in the end,” her mother replies. This simple exchange sets the tone of the album, which has an underlining theme of reassurance. Musically, it proves to be a loud, raw number with a chorus that’s practically shouted, bursting out at you like a rabid dog. Except that you want to get bit by this one.
The album’s first single, “Back To The Shack,” follows. It’s about “rocking out like it’s ’94,” spelling out the band’s desire to remake their earlier albums, basically, as Rivers Cuomo describes what things were like back then. “Take me back, back to the shack,” he sings like his life depends on it. “Sorry guys, I didn’t realize that I needed you so much / I thought I’d get a new audience / I forgot that disco sucks,” goes part of the first verse. So, not only is the band expressing a desire to sound like their old records, they’re also apologizing for their recent albums. Which is a slap in the face to the people who actually liked their recent releases, really. Interestingly, the next song is called “Eulogy For A Rock Band” and sports lyrics that have the band essentially pronouncing themselves dead. At least during the verses. The chorus is from the point of view of the fans, basically a toast to the deceased band, which Cuomo sings in first person. ‘This is a toast to what you did / And all that you were fighting for,” he sings oh so passionately. It’s an ironic song since the album overall is not about the band dying but the band being reborn by returning to their roots.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” which Cuomo wrote with Justin Hawkins of British hard rock band The Darkness. Hawkins is famous for his high-pitched falsetto and he has Cuomo pushing the limits of his own falsetto here and there throughout the song. A couple of times it seems like Cuomo’s voice just might crack, but it never does and there’s something exciting about him pushing it right to its limit. “Don’t want to become everything that I despise,” he sings, again basically bashing the band’s last few albums. But, at the same time, he’s bashing himself for having made them, the whole song being an exercise in self-deprecation. Even though I like the albums he’s renouncing, I like the fact that he’s implying that it was all his fault. There’s something admirable about that. And the song is a delicious rocker somewhat in the vein of The Darkness, which happens to be one of my favorite bands, so naturally I love it.
Perhaps the best song on the album is “Go Away,” which is an up-tempo duet between Cuomo and Best Coast vocalist Bethany Cosentino. It’s a highly infectious tune where they play lovers who are telling each other to go away and never come back. “I’ll never let you back in,” Cosentino sings. It’s just a good, fun song and, refreshingly, it’s *not* about the band hating their recent work or wanting to re-make their old albums.
The album ends with a three-part suite that the band has dubbed “The Futurescope Trilogy.” It begins with what is basically an instrumental called “I. The Waste Lands.” I say it’s “basically” because you can hear people — the band, I assume — occasionally talking in the background at a level so low it might as well be a subliminal message. I’m not sure what the point of that is, but it’s one of the best rock instrumentals that I’ve ever heard. I know that’s a big statement, but it’s really quite killer, coming off like a cross between Iron Maiden and Queen. There’s just one thing that bugs me here: this song has excellent soloing, so I can’t help but wish the band did more of these sort of electrifying, almost metal solos in their regular songs.
The second part of the suite is called “II. Anonymous,” though for the time the band was calling it “My Mystery.” For nearly two minutes, it’s an instrumental, beginning with lovely piano, but eventually there are vocals. “I don’t even know your name / Though I don’t know what to say,” Cuomo sings, giving one the impression that the song is about crushing on someone whose name you don’t even know. But at the very end he chants, “Now I know what to call you.”
The album closes with the third part of the trilogy, “III. Return To Ithaka,” another instrumental with some invigorating guitar solos. It’s easily as heavy as the first part of the trilogy, if not a bit heavier, and it’s one of those songs that gets you jazzed up, tapping your foot and nodding your head to the beat. And there are some wonderful, booming drums here, So, cheers to Patrick Wilson for that. Kudos also have to go to guitarist/keyboardist Brian Bell and bass guitarist Scott Shriner, who both shine all over the album. Speaking of shining, that’s the ironic thing about this album. It is a proper return to the band’s roots, yet it also shines brighter than your average pop song. So, they’ve ultimately made an album that sonically sounds like their old stuff but is just as catchy as their recent material. Cheers to that.