When I write an album review, my general approach is to write the review about an artist that I know or like already. For this issue, I will be reviewing “Pacific Daydream,” the latest effort by ‘90s alt-pop goofballs, Weezer. I’ve always been a fan of Weezer, particularly enjoying “The Blue Album,” “Pinkerton,” and “The Green Album.” Weezer’s hardcore fanbase is possibly the most resilient fanbase I’ve ever seen, for Weezer straddles two lines when writing music: experimental alternative rock on the “Red Album” and “Raditude,” and an almost bubble-gum pop sound. The best Weezer songs are those that are able to cleverly draw upon both sounds. The newest Weezer, “Pacific Daydream,” did not do that. I will individually review several of the songs that stuck out most to me.
The album’s opener, “Mexican Fender,” was the closest that the band got to capturing that classic Weezer sound. It opens with crunchy guitar power chords and a great vocal hook that screams pop punk. When it gets to the chorus, the mood of the song completely changes. While frontman Rivers Cuomo sings “With Summer Love,” there’s an arpeggiated guitar line. Weezer loses the power chords, and instead tries for a spacey guitar sound; this approach didn’t really impress me. The verse and bridge sounded great, yet it lost its edge as soon as got to the chorus.
The next song, “Beach Boys,” is a tribute to the famous band. There’s a funky bass riff that stays consistent throughout most of the verses. Yet when the song gets to the chorus, Weezer again opts for the “oooooohs” and spacey guitar riffs that are consistent with most of today’s alt-pop. Personally, I felt that the lyrics in this song were a little stale: “Turn it up, it’s the beach boys, making my eyes get moist.”
The lead single of the album, “Feels Like Summer,” is hands-down my least favorite Weezer song. It just oozes top-40 sounds that make it seem like Weezer is trying too hard to write a good pop song.
“Happy Hour” was probably my second-favorite song on the album. The groove felt pretty good, and while still subjecting me to the some of the same top-40 sounds, it had great bass playing and I enjoyed the guitar throughout. Lyrically, it made little sense, but I enjoyed it just the same. This leads me to my favorite song on the album: “Sweet Mary.”
“Sweet Mary” starts with slide guitar and piano. Rivers Cuomo then begins to sing over sparse instrumentation. With each progressive verse, another texture gets added: glockenspiel, tambourine, shaker, etc. A great little guitar arpeggio plays over the chords of the chorus. When it gets to the bridge, Weezer adds their classic grungy guitar sound immediately after a beautiful brass part played by several trumpets.
Reviewing this album presented an interesting challenge; while I didn’t like it that much, as a Weezer fan, I respect it. Weezer tries too hard to make top-40 hits with the extensive use of synths, yet their ambition and musicianship on the album is clear. Gone are a lot of the power chords, which are replaced by many, many arpeggiated guitar lines that sound the same throughout the album. The bass playing on this album is actually pretty interesting, and Cuomo’s voice definitely sounds more polished than it ever has.