Returning to an original sound decades into an artist’s career could well be seen as that artist pandering to the extreme ends of their fanbase.
In Weezer’s case, it is simply vindicating this fanbase that they have spent the last decade and a half bludgeoning into apologism.
With Weezer (Blue) and Pinkerton, Weezer boast two of the nineties’ finest offerings, two often-uncomfortable yet incredibly earnest records that have succeeded wildly despite themselves.
Weezer’s greatest feature, in terms of outright lyrical craft, has always been frontman Rivers Cuomo’s ability to weaponise his persona’s own flaws in his writing.
Yet their modern records frequently sported an abhorrent disingenuousness, lacking any of these song-writing quirks that defined their sterling early work; Weezer’s noughties were punctuated by a plethora of awful music.
It would seem the band themselves knew it, too. Their 2014 effort: Everything Will Be Alright in the End was a bitter eye-roll, a petulant grunt to their decriers but it displayed clear signs of recovery, musically.
Weezer were eventually going to do as they were told as their fans had pleaded them to, but not without a strop.
Enter Weezer’s 4th self-titled release (original album titles are at a premium, clearly): Weezer (White).
Their tenth studio record is, in many ways, a sequel to Pinkerton. The promotional video for ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’ teased such a development, its single art slowly melting into a resemblance of the Pinkerton album art.
The track itself boasts the sort of thick, crawling, guitar lead that populated that 1996 release – less the disposable stoner-jam its title might infer, it depicts the narcotic-induced haze of Cuomo’s early-2000s as he fought addiction to prescribed medication.
This does not necessarily make White an outright re-tread. Even with its giant pop hooks, Pinkerton stewed with angst, partially scribed by Cuomo during a lonely winter at university.
White was written by a now-happily married Cuomo in a Californian summer, and it shows in it’s tone. For their few sonic parallels, the respective moods of the two records are worlds apart.
White answers Pinkerton’s ‘Why Bother’, a ceaselessly defeatist approach to a new relationship, with ‘Good Thing’, an ode to blossoming new love.
‘Wind in our Sail’ acknowledges Weezer’s recent struggles, and toasts to their future, ‘Thank God for Girls’ defies its sickeningly bro-y title to deliver a light-hearted play on gender roles (with pastry-based homoeroticisms for all), ‘King of the World’ directly references Cuomo’s own marriage and is perhaps pound-for-pound the tightest love song he’s ever penned.
‘Do You Wanna Get High?’, with closing track ‘Endless Bummer’, are rare burdened moments in White’s sanguine optimism.
Merely a result of Weezer’s continued inability to successfully innovate their sound, perhaps, White is the first Weezer album in a decade and a half truly worth your time, and the first in two decades that merits ownership.