Weezer (The Red Album) LA Times record review

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Weezer cover
Studio album by Weezer
Released June 3, 2008
Professional reviews

Metascore 64
Weezer (The Red Album)
Reviewer: Richard Cromelin (Los Angeles Times)
Publishing date: June 3, 2008
Rating: 3/5
3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars (3/5)

THE PAIRING of Weezer and producer Rick Rubin seemed like a no-brainer, but their first issue, 2005’sMake Believe,” lacked the hoped-for chemistry between L.A.'s nerd-rock kings and a studio guru who has brought out the best in Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Neil Diamond.

Here’s to hanging in there. Though it tails off toward the end, the second Weezer-Rubin collaboration (and the band’s third self-titled album, out June 3) is a rush, starting with a sustained, four-song soliloquy on pop music’s allure.

“I’m gonna be a rock star and you are gonna bear with me / Cuz I can’t work a job like any other slob,” Rivers Cuomo sings in “Troublemaker,” portraying an absurdly confident musician. In the similarly heavy-riffing “Pork and Beans,” he trumpets his independence and scoffs at lesser artists, those careerists who dream of hooking up with Timbaland to record a hit.

Rivers doesn’t make apologies for his sometimes crass characters, nor does he judge them. He forms them and animates them, then lets you deal with them. But all that attitude disappears with the onset of “Heart Songs,” a musical autobiography that describes a lifetime of listening, from ABBA and Debbie Gibson to Iron Maiden and Nirvana albums, and ultimately to the singer’s own induction into the fraternity of record makers.

The next two songs vary the theme but don’t let up as they capture, in turn, the bravado of youth and the appeal of imagination over day-to-day drudgery. Both “Everybody Gets Dangerous” and “Dreamin’ ” extend the album’s audaciously dynamic sound. The music on “Weezer” is marked by constant surprise in the structures and textures, which combine the crunch of Cuomo’s beloved KISS with a Who-like urgency and wit and the Beach Boys’ celestial pop epiphanies.

The album’s slip into a stretch of three uneventful songs is puzzling, but Weezer recovers for “The Angel and the One,” which ends this march through the material plane on a note of spiritual transcendence.

— Richard Cromelin, June 3, 2008

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