Weezer Everything Will Be Alright in the End

[Republic; 2014]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: stale bubblegum, self-pity
Others: MRAs and dads everywhere

If the title of Weezer’s ninth album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, is a statement of faith, then what does that say about being a Weezer fan 20 years after their debut? We’re an unshakable and self-flagellating bunch — I’ll at least grant you that. And if you close your eyes and try real hard, you can definitely fool yourself into believing that at least a couple of the songs here could’ve been culled from the Blue Album sessions. Except that’s the thing: in the real world, “Ain’t Got Nobody” — fun as it is — wouldn’t’ve been good enough to make the Angus OST, and “Lonely Girl” would only exist as a file traded between Weezer geeks on the internet. The most passable =W= moments on EWBAITE are also those that are embarrassing enough to punch holes in the teenage bedroom wall that is your faith. But Weezer are embarrassing; they’ve always been embarrassing. What they’ve rarely been is dull, which is precisely what these canny imitations are.

Of course, you don’t actually lose hope, because that’s not what true believers (beweezers?) do. No, you find the eschatological justifications, noodly though they might be, required to protect whatever relics of faith remain. And on that questionable and heavily-qualified count, EWBAITE totally delivers.

If you buy into Weezer’s meta-narrative, then you accept that they need to maintain their dorky, uncool reputation. I mean this as a compliment, but Weezer have made a 20-year career out of what Weird Al got across in less than three minutes with “White and Nerdy.” Weezer, and by that, I suppose I mean Rivers Cuomo, has never not had “homies dissing [their] girl.” They “Ain’t Got Nobody,” but they got their own cruise, know what I mean? Weezer have always been less the band you want to be in, and more the one that could plausibly have you as its member. What I’m (barely) getting at is that part of the thing I love about Weezer is their stake in making sure that they keep releasing Dynamite Hack-work. Thinking back to eschatological justifications, how else could you explain “Cold Dark World?” It’s like Weezer are continually telling you to accept the mystery, quit asking already.

There’s something endearing in the far-reaching ways that Weezer have managed to stay embarrassing for 20 years now. When they switched out Lil Wayne for Chamillionaire on the “Can’t Stop Partying” remix, it was almost like they stopped pretending they weren’t trolling. That’s not a bad thing, afaic. I see no dissonance in the fact that I love these songs while knowing fully that they are awful. Closer to the point, they are awful, yes, but they’re also earnest, despite the gummy and obvious aesthetic of irony that has been slathered over their entire oeuvre. Weezer are like that childhood friend who would do pretty much any dumb thing dared, just as long as it meant people paid them attention. Maybe those friends annoyed or embarrassed you, or maybe they just wanted your attention; but, crass as it is to admit, it feels good to be wanted.

Now I’m verging on the articulation of something altogether creepy and fedora-ish, but if I’m being honest, that too has long been part of Weezer’s appeal. It’s a Cheap Trick, wanting to be wanted, needing to be needed. Even returning producer and erstwhile automobile Ric Ocasek himself has been guilty of this same thing. Most dudes were, many still are. Even still, I can hold the idea of the white male insecurity in complete and utter disregard, believe in Weezer’s sincerity, while also trusting that their retrograde performance is little more than that. No dissonance there. Irony and sincerity, when you’re listening intently to Weezer, are wrestling or maybe frotting; either way, they’re naked, lying on the floor.

That struggle, that duality, that entanglement, is precisely the reason that the “I forgot that disco sucks” line on “Back To The Shack” doesn’t even warrant an eye roll. I mean, if Rivers thinks it sucks, you know he’s gonna try it at some point. So sure enough, three songs later, the guitars shed their old chunk and start to thrum with the pneumatic precision. It’s not disco, unless Maroon 5 is disco, in which case, I’ll agree that disco sucks. But as one who appreciates Weezer at their most ill-advised, I don’t think that sucking should preclude my enjoyment. It hasn’t yet with Weezer. I mean, “I’ve Had It Up To Here” is one of my least favorite songs on the album, and yet I hope they end up releasing a B-side remix by Tïesto, David Guetta, or someone equally awful. In any event, it would be neither a difficult feat to achieve nor any worse than the version of the song that actually exists.

There isn’t a single moment on EWBAITE when I wasn’t second guessing my feelings, and that makes it interesting to me, if not necessarily as interesting as some of their other post-reunion records. If there were a list of shitty songs redeemed by incredible guitar solos, I would have to nominate “The British Are Coming” for inclusion therein. “Death of a Band” is an absolute gangbang of a track, exploding with hooks while also functioning as a self-pitiful/congratulatory party jam that cribs not-so-subtly from “Mr. Brightside,” which when you think about it makes at least a little sense. For a while there, it seemed like The Killers were on a similar wavelength to Weezer — you know, suck memorably at lots of different AOR subgenres — but The Killers, unlike Weezer, couldn’t even make it a decade without forgetting how to be both dumb and captivating.

So maybe I think that EWBAITE is basically a success because it sucks just enough. Maybe I like EWBAITE because, in acronym form, it sounds like a joke about jerking off, which is kind of what this album is. Maybe you disagree and writing all this makes me an asshole. Either way, let’s at least agree that the “Futurescope Trilogy” (!!) suite that closes out EWBAITE is extraneous, grafted on like import-only bonus tracks and not really worth discussing. Disagree? Well, I’m more than willing to hear your arguments. Why? Because I can’t not look for reasons to believe in Weezer, because I’ve lost track of where the trolling begins and where the music ends, and because, by now, that doesn’t really matter anyhow. I don’t listen to Weezer because they’re tasteful — or even “good.” I listen to them because they’re willing to name drop Rosetta Stone and Ancestry.com on a love song, because they team up with Best Coast to perform what I’m too lazy to confirm is an Avril Lavigne song, because Weezer still write melodies that get stuck in your brain for days, and because once in a long while Weezer are still able to wound you with their sincerity. “Foolish Father,” EWBAITE’s big showstopper, is cloying, cheap, and off-putting, yet somehow its climax represents the apotheosis of my faith in Weezer, the fulcrum upon which this whole bad religion was founded.

At this point, I’ve been following Weezer so long I can’t even tell if I’m not myself trolling. But you know what? Even bad art needs its devotees. I made it through Make Believe, and I made it through Hurley, so at this point, how could EWBAITE even present a challenge? After all, it should take more than an unsuccessful return-to-form record to shake one’s faith in any institution as perplexing, enduring, or sublime as Weezer.

Links: Weezer - Republic

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