Published Oct 03, 2014The highest compliment we can pay a Weezer album these days is that it's "not a complete embarrassment." And by that low bar, the band's ninth full-length, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, is an overwhelming success. It seems that low sales and fan fatigue has finally caught up with Rivers Cuomo and co., and this is their attempt to right the ship.
Cuomo appears to have abandoned his dream of becoming a for-hire songsmith, mostly dispensing with uber-producer collabs in favour of mining his own life for inspiration. The result is a record that grapples with relationships — never Cuomo's strong suit. Opener "Ain't Got Nobody" lays out the central complication, that Cuomo feels alienated and abandoned by the people around him — friends, family, fans, bandmates and women. But this isn't the mope-fest Pinkerton fans pine for; instead Cuomo remains optimistic, reminding himself that, in the end, everything will be alright.
Ric Ocasek once again returns as producer, lending some much needed perspective and quality control. Cuomo's mea culpa continues on cloying lead single "Back to the Shack," on which he acknowledges that he lost his way. Far more effective is "Eulogy for a Rock Band," a Maladroit-esque toast to rock's dying days.
The album's middle third is its weakest. "The British are Coming" is a middle finger to colonial England, while "Da Vinci" is a "Pork and Beans" re-write. Much better is "Go Away," Cuomo's duet with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, which finds the two playing jilted lovers, and "Foolish Father," co-written with Titus Andronicus front man Patrick Stickles, which ends with a gang chorus that repeats the album's title like a mantra. This should be the album's natural end point, but instead the band tack on the three-part "The Futurescope Trilogy." While not a complete washout, as a closer, it feels unnecessary.
Everything Will Be Alright in the End echoes much of Weezer's past, but the real selling point here is that, for the first time since Pinkerton, it feels like a coherent album as opposed to a loose collection of songs. There are stumbles, but given the band's history, they feel minor. The real question is, after years of disappointments, can Weezer once again capture the hearts and minds of fans and critics? For Cuomo, the answer is all in the title. (Republic)