Weezer Series #1: "Weezer"

A Music Review By Stefan Vlahov

Back in the mid-90s listening to indie grunge band Weezer was a fairly uncool thing to be caught doing, but many people did it anyway, in the privacy of their own home so as not to be seen as fad-chasers by a malignantly critical music scene that looked down on anything attempting to stray from the Nirvana formula even a little bit. Weezer’s self-titled debut was seen as a poor take-off on the bass-heavy rock n’ roll that had been put on life support just a few years earlier. Little did people know, this alt-rock band led by singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo had plans to move music forward, not regress into tried-and-true grunge-rock. Lead single “Buddy Holly” with it’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics and unique unstructured chorus showed as much. “What’s with these homies dissing my girl? Why do they gotta front?” infamously sings Cuomo in the romantic song that mixes ultra-violent imagery with a joking attitude that soon becomes infectious. While that juxtaposition of sex (love) and violence has become a Weezer (and Weezer copycats) staple 18 years later, it was a realtively unique idea for light rock at the time.

“Buddy Holly” and its subsequent silly (in a good way) music video didn’t make many people take Weezer seriously, but then came the brooding “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, a comparatively slow roller that was obvious in its lyrics, but remained vague in its overall meaning. At some point it appears to be about a relationship that can never be, at another a break-up song, but at the very beginning it sounds like its about the reluctance to join the same old stupid party that you always end up at on a Saturday night. The multitude of possible messages makes the song a must-repeat listen, not to mention its forward-looking musicality that would inspire Weezer copycats like Fountains of Wayne.

But one must get past those two singles to get to the real meat of the album. The unapologetic “My Name is Jonas” is a hard-hitting rock piece about the way life can surprise at every turn. “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” is a pure break-up song made unique by Cuomo’s heartbreaking lyrics: “I talked for hours to your wallet photograph And you just listened”. “In The Garage” finds the band going into the future with their first true self-deprecating song – a theme they would make whole albums out of within the next decade. And finally “Surf Wax America” is the most musically accomplished cut on the album complete with carefree lyrics and an indulgent mid-song musical breakdown. This is classic Weezer.

Overall, the praise being heaped upon Weezer’s debut is much-deserved. It’s one of the few alt-rock albums that actually live beyond their gimmicky hit singles and packs more staying power in under 40 minutes than some albums have in almost twice the running length. It’s in fact very difficult to pick a “worst song” on this album as about eight of them are tied at “great” and the other two are too creative in their execution to be called mediocre. The album will be enjoyed by music enthusiasts who don’t want to go too obscure, and by mainstream music lovers looking for some catchy tunes to accompany their day. 

Also make sure you search out the Deluxe Edition that includes rare songs not found anywhere else and live performances of album favorites like “My Name is Jonas” and “Surf Wax America”.

Best Song: Surf Wax America

Worst Song: No One Else

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