Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Weezer Transforms in Self-Titled Red Album

From left to right: Brian Bell (rhythm guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums), Rivers Cuomo (lead guitar, vocals), and Scott Shriner (bass).

Cover art can often reveal a lot about the music itself or become a cheap marketing tool to get others to buy the album. Weezer's self-titled Red Album uses the former that brings the group to a whole new place, musically. Depicting all four members wearing fun, goofy outfits against a red backdrop, that's exactly what the album feels like. Featuring instrument switches and multiple band members taking over lead vocals, the Red Album follows the trend of their other self-titled efforts in redefining the band and their music.

It may or may not have been intentional, but the Blue Album, Green Album, and Red Album have each been released seven years apart. It provides nice symmetry for a new Weezer. They created a list of things they wanted to accomplish with this record, and one of them was to have everyone have a hand in writing lyrics and music. The result is a well-rounded effort that exudes the personality and musicality of Weezer more than ever before. You get to hear the guitar efforts of drummer Pat Wilson, the drum efforts of front man Rivers Cuomo, and the surprisingly good vocal ability of bassist Scott Shriner and guitarist Brian Bell. While the previous lyrical style and content featured Rivers' sad and more somber side, the Red Album takes the opposite approach. With the place all four members are in their life, it sounds like they're having a lot more fun and happy where they are. It's not completely fun and carefree, but the album as a whole feels complete in its tone, atmosphere, and content. While the mix-up works better at times than others, it's all a very strong effort.

"Pork and Beans" feature many popular YouTube stars and Internet memes.

Their first single, "Pork and Beans" perfectly sets the tone with a nice guitar hook, amusing lyrics, and tons of personality. The music video shows how in tune and amazing Weezer is. Showing off almost every popular Internet meme and YouTube video, you get to see everything from the Soulja Boy dance to Peanut Butter Jelly Time and Leave Britney Alone. The first track, "Troublemaker" feels reminiscent of the Blue Album's "My Name Is Jonas" as it is very straight-forward and lays everything on the table. "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" was an inadvertant spin on a Shaker Hymn that has this epic feel. It truly is a roller coaster of musical styles. "Cold Dark World" features Scott Shriner on lead vocals and shows off an oddly appropriate combination of happy, unlifting lyrics with a much darker atmosphere. I always felt that Weezer had very strong closing tracks and "The Angel and the One" follows suit. Originally starting out as a standard pop song, it slowly evolved into this amazing, self-described "spiritual reverie." As some of the members' favorite track, it's one of the best on the album.

The deluxe edition features expanded liner notes and four bonus tracks, and I think all four bring a somber attitude that fits very well in the overall picture. "Miss Sweeney" is a really unique track that features Rivers' rapping vocals in a story about feelings for his office secretary. "Pig" is a fun, bittersweet song about the life of a pig while "The Spider" takes a similar, but very different tone. With the acoustic guitar and atmospheric vibe, the contemplative lyrics discuss questions about life and compares them to the life of a spider. But the final track, "King" has to be my favorite track that doesn't feature Rivers as lead. Scott Shriner takes over vocals once again after he strongly voted for the song to appear on the album. It took three weeks to record and perfect the song, and their hard work shows through clearly. His unique vocal style contrasts nicely to Rivers yet still feels like Weezer.

The Red Album has brought about mixed reactions, as some protest to change in the status quo. Every member is spotlighted well, and you can see the shine. The deluxe edition isn't completely necessary, but the bonus tracks add a nice conclusion to the album. This new Weezer is inspiring and should definitely be checked out.

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