"It's a hip-hop world, and we're the furniture," sings Weezer leader Rivers Cuomo on "Beach Boys"; it's one of many ham-fisted lines on Pacific Daydream, the band's 11th album, and it illustrates the predicament that the veteran group currently find themselves in.
Their signature brand of crunchy power-pop has become dated, and that leaves them with two options: they can stay within their comfort zone and become rock dinosaurs, or they can evolve with the times and risk derailing the modest renaissance they've been enjoying with their not-half-bad recent albums (2016's White Album and 2014's Everything Will Be Alright in the End).
Pacific Daydream attempts to have it both ways, combining crunchy guitars and "whoa-oh" hooks with electronic production tricks, and fails on both accounts. Radio single "Feels Like Summer" features an EDM beat drop leading into the chorus, but the half-assed hip-hop rhythm makes it fall flat. The ghastly "Happy Hour" employs flavour-of-the-month techniques (chopped-up, pitch-shifted vocal edits), while "Beach Boys" has none of the melodic richness of its namesake as it attempts to bludgeon its limp pop hook home with sheer repetition.
As unflattering as these stabs as modern pop are, they're actually better than the instantly forgettable cuts that make up Pacific Daydream's back half: "Any Friend of Diane's" sounds like Jason Mraz gone power-pop, and "Get Right" is similarly bland singer-songwriter fare.
And then there are the ungainly lyrics, which typically consist of vapid choruses ("Yeah it feels like to summer to me," "My summer love, ooh-wee-ooh," etc.) and bizarre verses where seemingly nothing is deemed too awkward for inclusion. Take "Happy Hour" for example, in which Cuomo spends an entire verse comparing himself to 16th Century conquistador Ponce de León.
Of the 10 tracks here, only the breezy, love-struck "Weekend Woman" has a trace the power-pop magic Weezer are capable of. The lyrics add up to little more than cheeseball pickup lines — "You don't have to die to go to heaven" — but its sun-kissed chorus melody casts the rest of the songs in an unflattering light. Weezer have had their share of ups and downs over the years, but Pacific Daydream finds them at their most clunky yet. (Crush Music)