Ladies and gentlemen… WEEZER!
When I tell people that Weezer are my favourite band, the reaction ranges from mild amusement to downright disbelief. Whilst it is true that being a Weezer fan has had its ups and downs over the years, nobody can deny the genius of the LA bands’ early work. There is however, a common misconception that Weezer stopped making good music around 2003 and have only harmed their legacy with each passing release. That is simply not true.
To say that Weezer are close to my heart is an understatement. Every disappointment, every moment of elation, every mundane Monday to fun filled Friday has been soundtracked by Rivers Cuomo and friends. Unlike a band like Arctic Monkeys however, Weezer are certainly not infallible. There are some songs on these albums that are not only bad songs but a genuine affront to Weezer fans. When Rivers’ gets it wrong, he gets it really fucking wrong. This makes them a hard band to like sometimes, but easy to love. Their idiosyncrasies are one of the things that keep Weezer so endearing. On the day their tenth album hits, it is time for an agonizing reappraisal of the whole scene…
10. Hurley (2010)
Key Track: Unspoken
If the controversy behind the clothing label Hurley sponsoring Weezer’s 8th effort wasn’t bad enough, most of the music is either forgettable Weezer by numbers or just plain bad. Why one of the greatest songwriters of his generation Rivers Cuomo, felt he had to bring in Ryan Adams, Linda Perry and the guy from Semisonic on co-writing duties is anybody’s guess but the results were not pretty.
Lead single ‘Memories’ is an enjoyable slice of guitar pop but is not as memorable as any of the lead singles from other Weezer albums. Buried under the muck however is ‘Unspoken’ which could have been a forgotten track from the Pinkerton era. Just a shame the rest of the album is so weak.
9. Raditude (2009)
Key Track: (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
If Weezer lost 50% of their fan base with the backward step of Make Believe, they lost half that figure again with Raditude. Terrible title, awful artwork and some of the worst Weezer songs ever written. Songs like ‘The Girl Got Hot’ and ‘Love Is The Answer’ are as bad as the song titles suggest although I must admit I have always had a soft spot for much maligned, Lil’ Wayne featuring single ‘Can’t Stop Partying’.
It’s a shame that Raditude has so much dross on it because ‘(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To’ is genuinely one of their best singles. Raditude would be the start of a mini slump for the band but thankfully not of a permanent decline.
8. Make Believe (2005)
Key Track: Perfect Situation
Time has not been kind to Make Believe. Despite being a monster hit on release it is remembered as the first major misstep in the Weezer back catalogue. Rivers Cuomo hinted at a return to the more personal lyrics evoked in Pinkerton but the result was an over produced, over the top and sappy record.
Whilst there is undoubtedly a handful of great tracks on Make Believe, the horrible lead single ‘Beverly Hills’ undermines the rest of the record and ‘My Best Friend’ is an indicator of the embarrassing, ‘drunk uncle at a party’, lyrical subject matter that Rivers’ would come to favour on later albums.
7. Everything Will Be Alright In The End (2014)
Key Track: Ain’t Got Nobody
The overwhelming feeling on hearing Weezer’s 9th album was relief. After the grotesque Siamese twins that were Raditude and Hurley,there was a genuine worry that Weezer were finished. Luckily, Everything Will Be Alright In The End was the return to their roots that Rivers promised before seemingly every album.
Stripped of the embarrassing bubblegum pop that infested it’s predecessors, Weezer’s 9th album was a return to form and felt like a band finally answering their critics. ‘Ain’t Go Nobody’, ‘Da Vinci’ and ‘Go Away’ (a duet with Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino) are all classics and the closing ‘Futurescope Trilogy’ shows why they reunited with Blue Album producer Ric Ocasek.
6. White Album (2016)
Key Track: King of the World
So was Everything Will Be Alright In The End a fluke or the start of an upturn in fortunes? Thankfully it appears to be the latter as White Album is about as good as a bands 10th album could possibly be. Early singles raised expectations for White Album and it doesn’t disappoint. Having only had chance to listen to it 4 times, it is difficult to know where it will sit on this list when the dust has settled but for now it seems Weezer are properly, actually back to something like their best.
‘King of the World’ is as close to sounding like Blue Album as they have come for years. It almost makes me want to weep.
5. Red Album (2008)
Key Track: The Angel and the One
Weezer took three years to recover from the indifferent reaction to Make Believe. All the pre release talk before Red Album was of a more autonomous approach to song writing with Brian Bell, Scott Schriner and Patrick Wilson all contributing a track each as well as lead vocals. It is Rivers’ songs that make Red Album such an exciting and memorable album however.
Their is very little filler on Red Album and whilst ‘Pork and Beans’ gave the band an international hit, it is ‘The Angel and the One’ that is the albums stand out moment.
4. Green Album (2001)
Key Track: Hash Pipe
A lot happened in the five year wait between Pinkerton and Green Album. After Pinkerton flopped critically and commercially, the band eventually regrouped with new bassist Mikey Welsh and set about making a record as far removed from the emotional breakdown that was Pinkerton as possible.
The result was a resounding success and at only ten songs and under thirty minutes, Green Album is a lesson in trimming the fat and delivering what fans wanted – hits. It is safe to say that their would be no Weezer had Green Album not been a success and whilst it doesn’t break any new ground musically it is a songwriter and a band at the very top of their game.
3. Maladroit (2002)
Key Track: Keep Fishin’
Maladroit (roughly translated from French as ‘awkward’) came out so quickly after Green Album that it never really received the adulation that it definitely deserves. Just as concise as Green Album but with a stronger, more confident set of songs, Maladroit is not just Weezer’s most underrated record, but also one of the most underrated albums of that decade.
‘Keep Fishin’ is classic, hook laden Weezer and alongside ‘Dope Nose’ and ‘Slob’ it forms a trimutive almost as good as any on Weezer’s other albums.
2. Pinkerton (1996)
Key Track: Impossible to choose. The whole album is perfect.
Ahh Pinkerton. The myth, the legend, the disaster. Loved, loathed, mocked, dismissed, worshipped. Even Rivers himself can’t decide if he likes it or not. For Weezer fans however, Pinkerton is the holy grail. One of the most overtly confessional albums ever released, Weezer’s sophomore effort is at once tender and cringe worthy. A masterpiece.
Read more about my undying love for Pinkerton here.
1. Blue Album (1994)
Key Track: Say It Ain’t So
Suede’s Dog Man Star, Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York, Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, Blur’s Parklife and Green Day’s Dookieare just some of the albums that were released in 1994. Wow. The best album of the year for me will always be Weezer’s Blue Album. An album that is just as at home playing during a poker night than it is at a BBQ. The perfect Summer album. And Spring. And Autumn. And… you get the picture.
My favourite ever album. The album that I have listened to the most. The album I own the most copies of (four for some reason). It is safe to say no album has affected my life like Blue Album. If you have ever been drunk with me you have heard ‘Say It Ain’t So’. There isn’t a song on Blue Album that doesn’t still sound fresh, vibrant and exciting today. I fucking love you Weezer.