Released: Tuesday 28 September 2010
Like Oasis, Weezer made two well-received albums in the mid-90s and everything since has been greeted with responses ranging from mild interest to seething, betrayed anger. Weezer fans are not like the others: when frontman Rivers Cuomo sang about lusting after underage Japanese girls or being clueless enough to fall in love with a lesbian, the fans loved it because they too were socially-retarded borderline paedophiles. Obviously I only half mean that: growing up with The Blue Album myself, I realise that Weezer were once a genuinely excellent band, and it hurts me too that they aren't any longer. But isn't it time that we stopped caring? This is Weezers' eighth album: their last good album was Maladroit (their fourth), so if you are one of those people who feels like writing an essay on how awful it is that Cuomo keeps promising gold and delivering lead, take a step back, look up Noel Gallagher's press statements in the build-up to every shitty Oasis album, and see the folly of your ways.
The great thing about adjusting your levels of expectation to absolute zero is that you might be pleasantly surprised. And although I'll probably have to relinquish my ticket for the annual critics' ball for saying this: I quite enjoyed this album. First track 'Memories' is fairly typical modern-Weezer, containing no subtlety and at least one noticeably terrible lyric, but it's catchier than it should be. 'Ruling Me' is actually pretty awesome, in that it sounds a bit like The Cars and Journey and gives not one jot: it's just a very simple teenage lovesong without the side-order of cynicism that seems to be a staple of the band these days.
'Trainwrecks' sounds, hilariously, like a cross between 'Brass in Pocket' by The Pretenders and 'The Best' by Tina Turner. More promisingly, it may mark the return (finally) of Rivers' sense of humour. The lyric: "We don't update our blogs!/ We are trainwrecks" would suggest so, but then again, Cuomo claimed that his (awful) ode to Beverly Hills ('Beverly Hills') was totally unironic, so who can say? 'Unspoken' somehow makes the idea of an acoustic Weezer song with fluttering hippy-flute seem kind of okay, then spoils it with an unnecessary rock-out at the end.
'Where's My Sex?' starts with the lines: "I made my sex/ She knitted it with her hands/ Sex-making is/ a family tradition", which made me splutter a little bit the first time I heard it. It's kind of a stupid song: not as good (but just as direct) as Grinderman's 'No Pussy Blues'; the highlight is definitely that first line. 'Hang On' is the kind of sweeping love song The Killers were good at before they stopped trying completely.
'Smart Girls' introduces a drum machine and synths but fundamentally it's very Weezer. Lyrically, again it's no more complicated than your average McFly song, but I would much rather have the Rivers who writes simply than the one who embarrasses himself with clumsy references to current pop-culture (and implicitly admits that he doesn't understand it and it makes him feel old, yadda yadda). He does retreat into that moany old man pose a bit for the final song, 'Time Flies', but it's a fairly dignified stab at the old aging 'n' dying chestnut. As Cuomo is 40 now, it's certainly more honest (less creepy, too) than singing about picking up chicks in the dinner hall.
I have a feeling I'll wake up in the morning and realise this album is terrible: as far as I know reception among fans is as angry as ever (I don't - and won't - visit Weezer message boards to confirm this), but with my rock-bottom expectations and inbuilt reluctance to criticise anything dumb and hooky I seem to have ended up liking it. It's probably awful. Just ignore me.