Student | Yuji Aoyama
It’s not every day Weezer surprise-releases an album. It’s even more surprising when they decide to make it a cover album, riding on the success of their ‘Africa’ cover. What’s more is that it’s actually good. As such, Weezer’s latest self-titled (dubbed as the ‘Teal Album’) seems a promising prospect for any longtime fan. However, Teal leaves something to be desired, and ultimately doesn’t amount to anything much more than a holdover until their next original work.
If nothing else, Teal is an enjoyable listen. Part of what made ‘Raditude’ and ‘Make Believe’ so reviled is the way the band tried to force themselves to be conventionally attractive; Teal is a fun, simple record that succeeds on the premise of not having to be written by Rivers Cuomo. Weezer’s better pop albums are redeemable because they are earnestly made, coming from an original effort and not written solely to appeal to something the band isn’t. Where ‘Beverly Hills’ and ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ are generic, soulless and insufferably cheesy, the band has finally let go of the ridiculous notion that anyone wants to listen to a bunch of 40-year-olds pretending to be young, hip and wild.
Teal represents something actually enjoyable, in that Rivers no longer has to worry about putting on pretences. His love of classic metal has been well-known as far back as the band’s debut, wherein he immortalizes his appreciation for the band members of Kiss; it seems appropriate, then, that the best track on Tealis a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’. Similarly, Rivers has tried to imitate his favorite rappers and hip-hop artists more than once, satirizing Lil Xan’s Wikipedia article for his Spotify biography and co-opting Jermaine Dupri on the ill-fated ‘Can’t Stop Partying’. His cover of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ succeeds where he’s failed in the past, however; once again, Rivers’ enthusiasm for the genre shines through a lot better when he doesn’t have to write the song.
All of this is well and good, but it still presents a problem: it doesn’t prove that Weezer is good at actually making music. Most songs on the album lean towards recreating the original instead of improving them or adding anything new. The fact that Teal is clearly capitalising on the success of their ‘Africa’ cover – even opening on the same song – doesn’t inspire confidence in the idea that they might have moved away from their focus on sacrificing creative expression to make pop hits. Ultimately, as enjoyable as the album might be, Teal doesn’t stand on enough of its own creative merit to make a lasting impact on the band’s discography – but a fun album will always be preferable to a bad one.