Weezer (The Green Album) Pitchfork Media record review
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||May 15, 2001|
|Weezer (The Green Album)
Reviewer: Spencer Owen (Pitchfork Media)
Publishing date: May 14, 2001
I could fill an entire paragraph right now simply repeating the name Weezer. Oh, Weezer, Weezer, Weezer. Oh, Weezer. How sad I am for Weezer. Let's backtrack. This requires a lot of personal history to be revealed-- total stream-of-consciousness memory recall. We'll start in 1994. In 1994, I was ten years old. Rock music was a new and relatively unknown concept to me. By rock music, I mean rock music: distorted guitars, hard-hitting drums, the harshness of grunge and rock. It had already broken onto mainstream radio, but I was too young to pay attention. I was a weird kid, busying myself with Talking Heads and Laurie Anderson records.
The girl who lived next door (and who also happened to take care of me on occasion, when my parents were out) was probably around 12 or 13 at the time. I thought she was beautiful. It resembled a crush, although it probably wasn't. And occasionally, we would listen to CDs. She brought over her very small collection-- mine was already three times as large. There was a blue disc amongst her discs. She pulled it out and pressed play. My world was blasted apart. She clearly loved this, and I had no idea what to think. "Undone (The Sweater Song)" was her favorite. It was one of those rare 'brand new' experiences I'm lucky enough to be able to remember. Not long after, I obtained a copy of my own. It was my favorite album for a very long time. I ordered lyrics from the fan club through the mail. I memorized the handwritten words while listening to the album on repeat. "My Name is Jonas" was pure beauty, and "Only in Dreams" was pure power. It still is.
Somehow, I didn't manage to pick up Pinkerton until 1999. I'd kind of forgotten about Weezer for a year or two, and then suddenly I remembered them. At first, I wasn't terribly impressed, clearly being more familiar with the sound of grunge and angst. And then I listened to it a second time and was knocked out all over again. I went back to "the blue album," this time understanding the intricacies of the sound-- what makes the songs so warm and effective. Its simple brilliance slapped me; it sounded as fresh as it did the first time I ever heard it. So naturally, as news of Weezer recording began to circulate late last year, I was overjoyed. How would they follow-up the blistering, angry Pinkerton?
And then, months later, Weezer released "Hash Pipe." It was on the radio one day a few weeks ago. I listened to it. I listened to the whole song, from beginning to end. And when it ended, I said no. I said no no no no no. No! Weezer! NO!! Where has Rivers Cuomo gone? What has he done? What has happened to Weezer?! WHERE ARE THE REAL WEEZER?!! My heart was broken. Really. This is going to sound like hyperbole, but I hated music at that moment. For just a moment, I lost faith completely. It was an overblown reaction, granted, but even after I realized how ridiculous I was being, I still felt a hatred. The song was abysmal, no two ways about it. It wasn't awkward. It wasn't charming. It didn't have dueling guitar solos with soaring and intricate harmonies. And what it wasn't made it what it was: stale, polished, emotionless.
The new self-titled Weezer album, as it turns out, is average from beginning to end. There are maybe one or two decent melodies out of the ten songs here, and the only change in tone comes with "Island in the Sun," the album's only truly enjoyable song and its catchiest hook. It's the first and only moment of even moderate pleasure in the record's brief yet far too long 28-minute length. But even with this singular change in volume and mood, Weezer lacks the sense of dynamics and intricacy that Pinkerton-- and especially their debut-- held in spades. There's no power to these songs, and even less depth.
It's a de-evolution back through Pinkerton, through the blue album, and beyond. Like "Hash Pipe," it doesn't seem genuine anymore. But The Green Album doesn't generally sound like the canned, artificial angst of "Hash Pipe"; it has a sunny disposition, with songs like "O Girlfriend" and "Glorious Day." An actual line from the song "Smile," for instance: "Open up your heart and let the good stuff come out." It's unoriginal, moronic and tacky, and that's all there is to it. Nothing under the surface. Disappointment.
I was bitter. At Rivers, at Weezer, at Geffen and Interscope. This was one of my favorite bands. They were the only band whose fan club I have ever joined. They had significance. They opened musical doors for me. This album is not that Weezer. But I had to write a review, so I did a little research. And I read that, after the complete failure of the angst and emotional extremes of Pinkerton in the music world, Cuomo felt as if his goal to be a rockstar was completely obliterated. So he locked himself in his room for a year, with no outside contact, and when he came out, his work suddenly had no emotional content.
He's now afraid that fans of the band will hate the new album and lose touch with him and the group. He genuinely realizes that all of the feeling in his vocals and lyrics are gone, and he realizes that it's probably a phase. And I suddenly share his fear. So maybe the real Weezer-- the Weezer I know and love-- can come back now. After this phase ends and the album goes platinum, maybe they'll feel better about themselves. I'm going to go upstairs now to listen to the album that is 1994 to me, the album that is still new and marvelous to me after seven years, and fall asleep content.
— Spencer Owen, May 14, 2001