Sooooo…Weezer’s album release schedule has been a little topsy-turvy of late. You can blame Covid-19 for that and bizarrely Green Day. At the time of the outfit finishing up their orchestral pop record ‘OK Human’, they got the nod to join Billie Joe Armstrong and the gang on the massive Hella Mega Tour with Fall Out Boy. Frontman Rivers Cuomo quickly realised an introverted LP buoyed by cinematic strings wasn’t going to cut it “okay, we just made the worst type of album you could make before a stadium rock tour” he stated recently to Kerrang!
‘OK Human’ was temporarily shelved in favour of material that would befit a crowd of thousands hungry for anthemic rock ‘n’ roll. The LA group have always had a fondness for riffs and more accurately metal; so with a shared love for Black Sabbath, Rush, Slayer and Van Halen, they set to work on their fourteenth LP, the appropriately titled ‘Van Weezer’. Then, well, a pandemic fucked up that plan or as Cuomo puts it “well, we’ve just made the worst possible album for a time when you can’t actually tour or perform or rock out. When nobody is going to concerts, how can you possibly promote a stadium rock album?” After a quick switcheroo, ‘OK Human’ was picked back up again and released in January, with ‘Van Weezer’ now due to drop 7th May, ahead of the Hella Mega Tour kicking off in Seattle on 14th July (fingers crossed fellas).
*Clears throat*, ARE YOU READY TO RAWK?! Devil horns at the ready because the pop-punkers have boosted their wares with monstrous fretwork and anthemic songs ready for stadiums across the globe. But let’s be clear, this is very much metal by the way of Weezer, they’ve not gone full Iron Maiden on us here. There are riffs aplenty but they’re coated in a poppy sheen, which gives ‘Van Weezer’ more of a big radio rock sound than something you’d expect at Donnington’s Monsters of Rock. And in typical fashion, lyrically the record leans heavily on self-deprecation, like Weezer only know how. For every chugging Metallica-esque reference there’s something softer and not-so metal but when it’s all said and done, the album is big and fun – what more could you ask for when you’re surrounded by hordes of music fans ready to party?
There’s tributes to the devil’s music paid throughout ‘Van Weezer’, whether it’s the ‘We Will Rock You’ stomp- clap of ‘All The Good Ones’ or how ‘Beginning of the End’s widdly-widdly solos invoke Bill and Ted at their most excellent (even down to Cuomo singing “In heavy metal we trust”) or the guitar god chugging breakdowns on ‘1 More Hit’. ‘Hero’s brilliant anthemics even go down the route of full geek-dom (don’t we all know rock/metal fans love all things nerdy), with the band’s mouthpiece passionately proclaiming “when I was a kid/I thought I’d save the world/running ‘round and chasing all the criminals/swinging on a web/flying in the sky/shooting lasers from my eyes/but now I know it never was my destiny/it’s not my place in life/not who I’m meant to be/I don’t need the glory/I don’t need the fame/and I don’t wanna wear this cape”. Isn’t it so stereotypically Rivers to quash the dream of being a superhero?! ‘Van Weezer’ is pure, silly escapism, whether it’s ‘I Need Some Of That’ and it’s nod towards every riff-merchants weapon of choice “I can plug into a Marshall stack/and I can be anything I want” or via the sad-toned but still fret-wank-tastic ‘Blue Dream’ “I’m at home in this blue dream/since I found out you don’t want me”, which is all about Cuomo living under the sea in fishy love-lost isolation (obviously). And aren’t all rockers big softies behind the moshpits and headbanging? Well, ‘Precious Metal Girl’ is the album’s lighters-aloft, sing-a-long, tear-jerker moment. With just an acoustic guitar supporting his voice, Rivers delivers a quirky love song, where he coyly sings “you look like you could have been in Faster Pussycat/in your leather jacket with the patches on the back”.
So pull on that sleeveless denim and grow your hair out long, because Weezer are (hopefully) coming to a town near you to rock your socks off. ALL HAIL ‘Van Weezer’!
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