Weezer Aren't All That Heavy on 'Van Weezer,' and They're Better for It
Published May 01, 2021Weezer's hard rock and metal influences have long served as a cheeky counterpoint to their pop geekiness: they name-checked KISS on their first album, embraced heavy fuzz riffs on 2002's Maladroit, and titled their 2010 B-sides comp Death to False Metal.
Van Weezer takes that heavy undercurrent and makes it the focus. The album is full of shredding solos, riffs cribbed from Ozzy Osbourne and lyrical allusions to metal. But don't be fooled: for the most part, this is just the same old Weezer with added two-hand tapping. That's a good thing, since the half-hearted metal schtick is mostly just an excuse for frontman Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates to crank their amps and play the power pop they do best. It's a less radical experiment than this year's all-acoustic, orchestra-assisted OK Human.
Lead single "The End of the Game" is an accurate primer for what lies ahead: the twiddly tapping and grandiose drum hits wink at metal, but the song eventually settles into chugging rock with a golden melody and sun-kissed harmonies. "All the Good Ones" is only hard rock in the poppiest, stomp-stomp-clap sense (think "Beverly Hills" except good), and "I Need Some of That" is a jangly pop tune that's light and breezy even by Weezer standards. Final track "Precious Metal Girl" is a classic acoustic closer à la "Butterfly" or "Endless Bummer."
Ironically, the group only lose their way when they actually embrace Van Weezer's concept on the album's middle stretch. The gimmicky "Blue Dream" rips its guitar lick from "Crazy Train," and its aggressive pulse and silly aquatic lyrics don't play to Weezer's strengths. "1 More Hit" has Metallica-esque palm muting, which might be a good thing if not for the lyrics about drug dependency, which come across like a stylistic exercise in being badass rather than an actual commentary on substance abuse.
But as Cuomo sings on "Sheila Can Do It," which features an intro of motorbike revving and a beautiful straight-outta-Blue melody, "She looks like she's having fun / And I don't see the problem with that." Weezer are goofing around with some of their favourite influences, and their excitement is contagious. (Atlantic)