When I heard that Weezer was going to be releasing a new album in 2016, I was pretty happy. Then I found out it would be called the “White Album,” which made me a little nervous. Then I found out it would be a concept album that tells a story. I prepared myself for an album that wouldn’t be bad per se, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the album came off as pretty soulless, a quick album for a quick cash grab.
Weezer has been around for forever to me (the band is older than the majority of the freshman class), but their consistency leaves a little to be desired. At least with me, Weezer’s music unfortunately has more songs like “Beverly Hills” than it has albums like “Pinkerton” or their debut album.
I’m happy to say that Weezer blew my expectations away with the “White Album.” They delivered a short, concise and enjoyable pop album that tells the story about summertime love in the city of L.A.
If I had to describe this album to someone in a short phrase, I’d say that “White Album” is a great example of pop-rock done right. The songs are short (consistently around the three minutes and 30 seconds mark). The lyrics are simple, but not too simple to lack depth; they tell a fairly entertaining story and, most importantly, the songs are catchy and well-crafted. Weezer could have very easily gone back down the “Beverly Hills” road and made some soulless songs for radio play, but they didn’t do that. Instead, Weezer made an album that feels heartfelt and genuine, with each song having its own unique identity.
Take the repeating piano throughout the song “Wind in our Sails.” If you were to say that you have never heard a song do this before, you’d be lying and you know it. Everyone and their mother has heard this repeating piano note in a song before. From LCD Soundsystem to Chance the Rapper, this use of piano is pretty ubiquitous in music. That’s why it’s so enjoyable to hear Weezer use this formula. It’s a short part of an admittedly short album, but hearing lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s vocals over a piano that seems to skip every other note so we can hear the drums more clearly sounds really unique and helps make this track feel different.
Weezer also delivers some very enjoyable pop music. As I said earlier, almost every track is three minutes and 30 seconds, and the album is only 34 minutes long. Sure, it’s short, but that works in the album’s favor. I think of it like a candy bar: it tastes great in small servings, but if you eat too much of it, you’ll get a stomachache. In an age where it seems like artists are in a competition to release the longest album, it’s a refreshing change of place when a band delivers a short and concise album.
Going off of the candy bar analogy, this album is very sweet. Cuomo’s vocals are always happy and sweet even when he’s crooning over a breakup in “Endless Bummer,” the synths throughout this album sound pearly white and are very noticeable. What I’m saying is that this album has every excuse to be labeled cheesy. Especially when you hear Cuomo wail lyrics such as “We got the wind in our sails like Darwin on the Beagle” or on “King of the World” where you can literally hear fireworks going off in the background.
Along with this, Weezer also shows off just how well they work together as a band, showing off some killer instrumentation. Songs like “California Kids” are very crowded but have fun finales. And “Do You Wanna Get High?” (great song, terrible title) has a guitar solo that proves that a simple guitar solo can be even better than a needlessly complicated one when it works with the rest of the song.
Rivers Cuomo’s vocals are also worthy of praise. I’m honestly surprised that he is over 40 and is still able to sound as youthful as he does. That being said, his vocals do feel aged but in the sense that you can tell that Cuomo has been practicing his voice his whole life and this is just him performing at his peak. On a bit of a side note, it’s fun to listen to Cuomo’s vocals on this album and compare it with Weezer’s first album. Listening to his vocals change over time is awesome.
Alright, enough beating around the bush. This is a concept album. I don’t know if I’m the only one getting sick of artists getting praise for delivering “concepts.” Like, cool, you can tell a story, but get your fucking novel out of my gangster rap. I’d say that Weezer nails the concept here. Yes, there is a story being told throughout this album, but it doesn’t cover up the music.
That being said, the story works really well with the music. From my interpretation, the album is about a 19-year-old boy suffering some hardcore unrequited love after hooking up with a girl. Because it works with the music, the story shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s told in such a way that it feels as if the narrator is reminiscing about this failed relationship in a way that’s almost like pondering lost youth. Sure it was a sad event, but it was an event that makes you happy when you remember it—it’s bittersweet.
As such, even the depressing parts of this story are delivered in a pretty charming way, like on the song “Endless Bummer,” when instead of being depressed about being lonely, the character is really only sad about leaving his headphones in his ex-girlfriend’s car.
All being told, I can easily recommend this album. It’s not too sappy, but it’s also not too serious. The album resides in that perfect zone somewhere in between. Weezer really outdid themselves here.