Weezer released a cover album a handful of days ago. In my opinion, it’s surprisingly good. Then again, I also believe Weezer’s “Africa” is far better than Toto’s. That being said, this album is fantastic.
Weezer is the most inconsistent band of all time. They released one classic album as their debut, and it is rightfully famous. The “Blue Album” is filled to the brim with hit after hit: “Buddy Holly,” “Holiday,” “The Sweater Song” and the indelible “Say It Ain’t So.” This album is a classic. It’s an album you can put on and everyone, for better or worse, will know the tunes.
They followed this up with “Pinkerton,” an album I’ve never really cared for. Weezer has always played with the aesthetic of sad, lonely, nerdy white dude, and “Pinkerton” goes too far into the self-pity mode for my tastes. On “Blue Album” (and on the new “Teal Album”), I think this persona is used perfectly. It’s charming to hear Rivers Cuomo sing about Buddy Holly, or cover “Take On Me.” It’s fun to hear a band sing about a prized sweater. Weezer is most effective when they are earnest.
After “Blue Album,” Weezer released a metric fuckton of bad music. I don’t like, ”Pinkerton,” but I get why people do. It’s a fine album. But albums like “Ratitude” or the “Red Album” are just awful. I really would have left Weezer by the wayside if it weren’t for the classic they released in 2016: their triumphant “White Album.”
This album soars. It shouldn’t work. It’s a concept album about a nerdy white boy falling in love with an older Vietnamese girl in Los Angeles. The girl gets weirded out by his obsessive behavior and dumps the kid. And the album is the musical odyssey through all the emotions that this insecure boy is feeling. It’s not a serious work, but it has heart. As a pop album filled to the brim with insecurities, it’s a paradox. But that appears to be Weezer’s bread and butter. This album is the most enjoyable listen of their career.
So how did they follow it up? A bad album. “Pacific Daydream” was abysmal, and I’m still not over it. But after that. they released a surprise cover of Toto’s “Africa,” which was outstanding, and the album from which it comes is equally fantastic.
This cover album hits all the marks for what a cover album should do. The songs they picked to adopt are light-hearted and fun. The aesthetic of the album cover is great. I love the Miami Vice costumes, and how it ties into some of the tracks––particularly all of the rad guitar riffs that find their way into tracks like “Billie Jean” and “Sweet Dreams.” Most importantly, I love that this album isn’t too serious about itself. This is the Weezer that come to the party to have fun and, thankfully, left their self-pity at the door.
The only way to cover “Take On Me” is to do it while having fun, and that is something Weezer is very good at. The only way a TLC cover by this slice of aged provolone of a band would ever work is if it were half in jest. We all groaned when we heard that Weezer covered TLC, but Weezer knew what they were doing, and it’s entertaining.
It’s in these senses that I think I like “Teal Album” the most. I’m not really going to sit here and say that Weezer outdid Michael Jackson. But I am going to tell you that it is very enjoyable to compare the two versions to each other. It’s also just a good song performed by good musicians. But with tracks like “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Africa” and “Sweet Dreams,” I absolutely think that Weezer outdid the original.
What Weezer bring to the table here is the ability to imbibe these old classics with a sort of life and energy that makes me excited to go back and rediscover these songs. They make this a very enjoyable process. When it comes to the songs I wasn’t really a fan of at first (“Take On Me,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Mr. Blue Sky”), Weezer has really gone the extra mile to reinvigorate some older hits, although part of me wonders how much of this is a result of the original songwriting. Like, I’m totally expecting their next album to suck. The singles they’ve released for it don’t sound that great. But this album, this album rocks.