Weezer’s New Album Van Weezer Is A Tribute To Hair Bands Gone Horribly Wrong
3.7 out of 5 stars
I wanted to write a fair review for this album. So, I listened to it once. Then I waited a few days and listened to it again (on top of having heard the singles quite a few times already).
Now, I feel like I am ready to explain why I didn’t like this album.
- This album concept is not a great fit for Weezer at all. They were sort of an extension of the grunge scene when they first arrived back in the mid-90’s which was the genre that killed hair bands. Even though Rivers Cuomo has stated he wanted to go back to the music he liked as a kid that was "suddenly uncool" when Nirvana's Nevermind came out and killed hair bands.
- By Rivers Cuomo’s own admission, he basically made the album to have more guitar solos to allow for a more rocking concert experience. However....
- The guitar solos are mostly a mash up of rip-offs from Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen and other pioneers in the hard rock, hair band space, and they make no sense to have in a Weezer song.
- The guitar solos are all gimmicky trills, hammer-ons, and a few pinch harmonics that - while sounding incredibly cool - lose their appeal as the songs around them aren't very good, and after about 5 straight songs the guitar tricks just don't have any power left in them. Hence, my reason for number 5.
- This should have been an EP. There was NO reason to make this a full-length album. I will actually say that if half the songs on here were never released, I would have been incredibly happy.
I know quite a lot about Rivers Cuomo and Weezer, and I totally get that Weezer wanted to go back to their childhood and give tribute to the music that made them love rock music in the first place. There is nothing wrong with that.
However, the execution here was almost like if you took Fountains of Wayne and smashed it with some Van Halen solos and threw in some Member Berries from South Park.
I will applaud them for accomplishing what they wanted to achieve for half of the album - big concert music with great guitar solos. However, the overall concept didn’t seem to be able to hold out for 10 full songs.
My least favorite thing about any music is when someone tries to recreate classics in their own way (hence, a huge reason why I hate cover albums). I find it arrogant to think that someone else’s rock anthems should be something that an artist can reshape for their own success. This album wreaks of that arrogance unfortunately.
Now, I will say that I don’t believe that Cuomo or Weezer are arrogant people. I just think that this was an arrogant endeavor.
The song "Blue Dream" borrows the guitars and drums from Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and then just pretends like that never was a song on its own as Cuomo sings his own verses over it. It is literally befuddling.
I happened to listen to “Only In Dreams” (from the Blue Album) and “Perfect Situation” (from Make Believe) right after I listened to this album, and I was struck by one very satisfying connection on those songs. They both have AWESOME guitar solos, and they didn’t have to rehash any of the old “jock jams” to do it.
Look, I hate bashing on Weezer, because they are truly one of my favorite artists of all time, and I do look forward to what the next concept of 4 albums (project titled “Seasons”) will sound like. I don’t expect much more of the Van Weezer elements permeating much further than this album, because the truth is Weezer is BETTER than all that hair band bullcrap. They always have been.
This just feels like an effort to gather new fans who are desperate for nostalgia since they watched Stranger Things over the last few years.
This album is worth a listen to just for the sheer differentness of it. But, as I mentioned, it could have been a 5-song EP that was something more like a “hair band tribute” instead of a “Weezer album with more guitar solos from the 80’s.”
I recommend listening to this 13-minute video of Eddie Van Halen's guitar mastery as a great way to fill your super shredding guitar solo needs.