[caption id=”attachment_1226” align=”alignnone” width=”640”] (Photo provided by Flickr-monkeyatlarge)[/caption]
Somewhere between 2002 and 2014, Weezer front-man Rivers Cuomo lost something. During the recording of Make Believe Cuomo used meditation as a source of inspiration in his quest, but besides making a few Buzzfeed-esque single of the year lists with songs such as “Beverly Hills” and “Perfect Situation,” entering the void of peace ended up not paying dividends for his search.
After the dumbfounding critical success of Make Believe and a hiatus where Cuomo finished his Harvard degree, the band came together to make their most experimental work to date, Weezer (The Red Album). Granted the album comes with a surprising flare for dramatics, but it was genuine. Cuomo was told he needed commercial appeal, so he wrote “Pork and Beans,” one of the albums most entertaining tracks which was accompanied with an instantly viral video. When his song-writing came under fire, he wrote songs like “Pig” and “The Angel and the One” which feature some of Cuomo’s most emotionally complex lyrics to date. Cuomo’s quest seemed close to ending, but he was on to something with a happy ending no less.
Weezer’s momentum was building like a decent stock, slow and steady. Things were looking up, that is until all progress was lost and Ratitude was released, and adding insult to injury was the farce that has appeared in value bins across the nation, “Hurley.”
I mention all of this because, to many Weezer fans, the title Everything Will Be Alright In The End was exciting in two ways — first it implied that something was wrong at the moment, which was true, and two that something was going to change, which we were all hoping for.
While Weezer has maintained its relevancy for over 20 years, it’s clear that they’ve struggled with their identity. Almost as if they sensed our growing concerns, the lead single for the album “Back to the Shack,” features a wistful Cuomo who sings, “Take me back, back to the shack/ Back to the strat with the lightning strap.” Clearly an ode to the guitar-lick heavy Weezer (The Blue Album) era, the song emulates everything that is, or at least was, Weezer.
Continuing with the theme of times past, the album moves to “Eulogy For A Rock Band,” a song that borders on ironic gratuity as it’s clearly by a band about who’s singing about said band.
“Back To The Shack” functions as plea for change and reference to an early song from the album “Pinkerton.”
The rumbling guitar riffs and heavy-handed solos give personality to the album, and after years of subdued whispers it’s refreshing to be caught off guard by the blaring sound. The opening track “Ain’t Got Nobody” brings it all to the table in terms of composition. Beginning with a pounding, the song repeats in its pulsing peaks in sync with the chorus and comes together for a grand solo. This attention to composition can be found throughout the album and this is due to its three segments.
In an Entertainment Weekly article, Cuomo described the album as dealing with three main themes: his relationship to others, his relationship to women and his relationship with his father — “with a new spin.” This segmented style gives the album an unseen touch of patience. Most notably, the middle section of the album packs the hardest punch, which Cuomo dedicates to his relationship with women. Songs like “Da Vinci” and “Cleopatra” are standouts in the section that carries the most weight and offers the best material in the album.
Not to say Rivers is losing his touch, but as this is one of the rare Weezer albums to feature guests in a writing capacity, it’s worth noting because it’s absolutely working. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast elevates “Go Away” from another typical Weezer track to an affectionate and charming duet. By bringing in a fresh crop of young talent, including Cosentino, Patrick Stickles, lead singer of Titus Andronicus and Ryan Slegr, front man of Ozma, Weezer effectively injected their album with younger but no less thoughtful influence that cannot go unstated. Weezer chose to go with their original producer, Rick Ocasek, whose presence was a huge catalyst in the search for their authentic sound.
Despite all he’s been through, Cuomo still made his influence palpable. The Futurescope Trilogy, which is what the last three songs on the album are called, takes the album in a completely unexpected and gritty direction. What is most impressive is the fact that this ambitious idea, which could have only come from Cuomo, actually works. Taking listeners from guttural, menacing riffs to a brief lyrical section and finally a bright crescendo of chaotic electric guitar, the trilogy brings the album to an appropriate end.
While the plight of an aging rock-band can teeter between sad and triumphant, Everything Will Be Alright In The End offers up more than most expected, but is still a long way off from the excellence that was Weezer’s debut album. And yet, perhaps that’s the point — we can’t go back.