Fans have been waiting for Weezer’s self-titled “Weezer (The Black Album)” since the project was first hinted at in 2016. It was teased many times since, including in a collaboration with Epic Games, creators of “Fortnite,” to bring “Weezer World” to life in a creative mode map.
Now that it’s here, “The Black Album” succeeds in giving off the Beach Boys gone bad vibe that lead singer Rivers Cuomo told New Musical Express the group is going for. I was not sure where this album was supposed to fit in the music world, but I decided that I would see what it brings to the table.
This album gives listeners a break from the typical format of a themed album by mixing pop, hip-hop, swing and contemporary styles. Weezer’s sound does stay consistent in some respects, like their lyrics about love and upbeat catchy tunes, but the overall inner workings of the album seem too intent on moving away from their usual interpretation of modern music. Weezer has been a staple in the alternative rock scene since 1992 and survived the techno shift that came in the early 2000s. In this album, they are trying to adapt to the modern style of 2019, but I feel like they should have done something different with this album.
The Black Album is supposed to be a flipped version of “Weezer (The White Album).” “Piece of Cake,” a song about drug use, like many of Weezer’s tracks, is a parallel to its counterpart song from “The White Album,” “Do You Want To Get High?” I think that on this song is where the idea of Beach Boys gone bad comes through the most. This is mainly because it’s based on an upbeat piano sound, but the band discards the happy vibe when the lyrics begin with the opening line of “Let’s do hard drugs.”
Details like this make the album great, but the tactics that Weezer is trying work too hard to bring the group into the modern music scene. As much as “Fortnite” players thought it was cool to hear the four pre-released songs from a boombox in the sand in “Weezer World,” I preferred their previous scheme of letting listeners download unfinished songs from “Maladroit,” which was a more authentic way to enjoy the music for me as a listener. This new way feels cheaper, somehow.
Even if their new style did not land as well as it could have with me, Weezer did come out with another hit and another album that I hope is well-received. The band is still able to engage its audience, and this new technique is successful often enough to carry the album with songs like “Can’t Knock The Hustle. I enjoyed this release, but I would have loved to see the group strike a better balance between old and new more consistently on this album.