The change began after Maladroit. Maladroit was the album practically picked by the fans. Weezer demoed all the songs on their website, and fans said which ones they enjoyed and which they didn’t, and Rivers (sort of) made an album from that. And they even asked the fans to name the album, and they (the band) picked Maladroit. Which sounds fitting, since critics and old school fans alike tend to believe that Weezer’s career post-Pink is a bit maladroit.
But when you look at the direction of Weezer — or really, Rivers’ — songcrafting, rather than his songwriting (which, let’s be honest, is pretty crap lately), the whole spectrum has changed. Weezer went from an emo-indie rock quartet to a bloated mainstream power-rock-pop explosion, except instead of writing the type of songs a typical rock band would write, Rivers writes songs about going to the mall. So, his images are a bit more positive than they used to be. He’s a happy guy, what can you do?
The Green Album and Maladroit, however, were both still in the vein, musically, melodically, as Blue and Pink. There were slight deviations, but for the most part, it was the Weezer Sound, complemented with Rivers’ pure, honest vocal quality. And in the end, you had two great albums, albums that arguably defined a generation, and then you had a long break followed by two good albums, but poor albums when compared to the first two.
And then you had Make Believe.
The first issue arises in the title: it’s not a color album. The routine was set: Blue (color), Pinkerton (nicknamed Pink but not technically a color), Green (color), and Maladroit (not color). Make Believe broke that mold, and ended up breaking a lot more molds in the process. Musically, the sound had changed. Lyrically, Rivers gave up writing about things close to his heart and started writing incredibly insipid lyrics. Again, the band was having fun, but at the cost of, well, musical credibility.
And now we’ve had Red, Raditude, and now Hurley. There have been some good songs on these albums, but none of them sound like the Weezer Sound. They have a new, more surfacey rock sound that’s just not very unique anymore. Gone are the quirky songs like “Undone (The Sweater Song)” or “El Scorcho.” In place are songs like “Beverly Hills” and truly awful songs like “We Are All On Drugs” and “Heart Songs.”
However, there are songs that have a Weezer Sound to them. “Perfect Situation” is a good example. It opens with a rising riff that is reminiscent of the summer 2000 demos. The lyrics aren’t great, but hell, you have to acknowledge that Rivers guitar riff at least. I think “Perfect Situation” is the best song on Make Believe (and not just because Elisha Cuthbert is in the video…). I like songs like “This is Such a Pity” because they sound different from the typical sound, but they also just don’t sound like Weezer. “Peace” actually sounds vaguely Weezeresque too, but it’s just too cookie cutter. “Pardon Me” also has a Weezer Sound opening.
The funny thing about Red and the albums that follow is that the b-sides actually sound a lot more like Weezer than the albums proper do. “Turn Me Round” is great, and “All My Friends Are Insects”[1. Okay, I guess “deluxe edition” tracks are b-sides, right? They’re not on the album proper. Or something.] from Hurley is really enjoyable. It’s short, it’s got a fuckin rad guitar solo, and it’s lyrics are simple but suggest something more (as in, all my friends are insects because I’m a loser). Really, Hurley in general seems to hearken back (both in style and literally in the lyrics) to the “old days,” which I guess for Weezer is back when educated people over the age of 16 gave a shit about them. It’s not anywhere near Blue or Pink, but it sounds more raw and emotional.
So I’m going to write one more blog about Weezer; specifically, I’m going to compile my ten favorite post-Green album songs in what I would consider to be a Good Weezer Album. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and now I get the chance. I just like to talk about Weezer in this “I sound like I’m stoned” sort of way. They’re a band that really influenced my entrance into the world of indie rock and power pop, and despite their later albums not being so great, they’re really fascinating to follow. So now, sleep, and tomorrow (maybe), another blog!