No, I’m not like a FANATIC of this album, and no, I’m not even really a fanatic of Weezer in general (I hated the Teal Album, as I hope all self-respecting people do), but hear me out here: this Black Album is some undeniably listenable stuff, and what’s more, Rivers Cuomo is just funny.
Take the song “I’m Only Being Honest”: he sings about somebody’s band sucking and then about somebody’s haircut not really cutting the mustard, then exploits the perils of being honest about such things, the result of which in one case is his girlfriend snapping “I hope you like sleeping on the floor”. There’s “Zombie Bastards,” which constructs itself together around this sort of Apollonian, positive message of rock and roll’s timelessness, only to dissolve into the wholesome chorus of “Die all you zombie bastards” (again over major chords). The real kicker might be “Too Many Thoughts in My Head” though, with its classic prechorus (at which point mind you you THINK the chorus has begun) of “I’m so high on cookies it’s insane”.
I mean, what the he** is that? You might have known this unconscionable crap was Weezer just from reading that, and if you hadn’t before, if you’re jealous of them, that line will probably compound said jealousy, ’cause sugar, they’re having more fun than you are. I can pretty much guarantee that.
Ok, obviously Weezer’s not perfect. In fact they more or less completely lack experimental elements in the department of song structure. What’s more, these songs can sometimes have a habit of sort of pu**yfooting in, in conjunction with the chronic malady of the fact that lots of times Cuomo is just straight up lying, or singing about something on which he really has no perspective. Opener “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” for instance, is about being a blue-collar or low-wage worker. But believe it or not: EVERY one of these songs rushes into a hypnotic groove, chorus or primary theme. Don’t believe me just listen.
Going back to “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” the production is there all the way as an entertaining wrinkle in itself, here manifesting in these muffled drums which likely came from inside an enclosed lair of some sort, and this funky-sounding guitar that sounds nylon-stringed and has a way of being both smooth and sassy at the same time. Adding to the undeniably swanky resume of this number is its just multi-pronged attack at having swagger, which includes low-register guitar riffs played presumably by Brian Bell and this unimaginably nasty bass sound from Scott Shriner. What’s even better, Shriner’s part is so funky that it barely needs anything OTHER THAN the one beat to show it’s bad. Then, to top it off, you’ve got the black-sounding female background vocals in the chorus to cap everything off and make it crystal clear that they come from the same state as Sly & the Family Stone.
Another thing that might surprise a lot of listeners, and sure as he** tickled me, is how strong side b is on this new project — in fact it blows away side a by and large, with the two middle of the album tracks I mention earlier bleeding into “The Prince Who Wanted Everything,” a Surfer Blood-approximating pop gem. “The Prince Who Wanted Everything” will take things back to that glint-eyed slacker day of “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and I would say it’s “updated,” but it’s not — it’s just GOOD, like a cook who rediscovered his old recipe and just shamelessly let it rip with nothing to lose. And in general, that’s the vibe I get from the Black Album — it exists in 2019 but it’s also timeless, it’s got this innocent love for rock and roll exuded and this easy approachability, but most of all, Cuomo’s storytelling ability, in which, of course, he might bend the truth a little sometimes. Eh, at the end of the day, I think you’ll probably forgive him.