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Weezer [Red Album] CD, Import
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Après un album bleu (1994), puis vert (2001), cette fois-ci le rouge est mis en cette fréquence de septennat artistique, avec un album encore une fois faussement éponyme, de la part du groupe sans nul doute le plus excitant de la scène post-grunge, mais oscillant si malicieusement entre l’inventivité heurtée des Pixies, et un caractère bien davantage séducteur à la Cheap Trick, qu’il ne peut générer que ravissement, et, à parité, défiance.
Après deux années de vacances, Weezer édite donc son sixième album en studio, c’est-à-dire que Rivers Cuomo, leader fantasque (aujourd’hui moustache de pionnier, et petit bidon sculpté à la bière), se sent prêt à offrir ses cavalcades de trois minutes, toutes hommages stratifiés à son panthéon personnel (Cobain, Springsteen, mais aussi Devo).
L’un des signes majeurs reste une production en partie confiée à Rick Rubin (au choix, l’homme aux manettes derrière les Beastie Boys, Public Ennemy, ou Johnny Cash). L’une des indubitables évolutions, est que, parallèlement aux chansons instantanées, fulgurantes et jouissives, pointent des suites plus alambiquées, comme un bon de sortie à l’imaginaire. L’une des incontestables délivrances, c’est qu’aujourd’hui, le chant, et même la composition, ne sont plus réservés à un seul homme au sein du groupe (pour preuve l’anxiogène « Cold Dark World » du bassiste Scott Shriner). Enfin, l’une des pistes incontestables, c’est que le disque offre en ultime tour de piste une version de « The Weight » de The Band (Cuomo viserait-il un fonctionnement démocratique, à l’instar de l’orchestre de Robbie Robertson ?).
Resserrés comme les doigts d’une main, lorsqu’ils se referment pour former un poing, les Weezer offrent l’album le plus conséquent, et cohérent, de leur carrière. Donc, le meilleur.
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They do so with both a wink ("Everybody Get Dangerous") and nostalgia (the terrific "Heart Songs"). There's even an attempt at an American Idiot style punk-opera with the oddball "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived." Using the traditional Shaker Hymn as its jumping off point, it's almost as odd as hearing the rest of Weezer sing. The 3/4's of Weezer that isn't Rivers Cuomo take up tracks 7, 8 and 9, with Brian Bell's "Thought I Knew" being the best of the batch. Maybe there was some idea behind democratizing the band. But let's face it, Rivers is the bent mind behind what makes Weezer the most thought provoking. It might not always be the most commercial move he could make and it makes executive bean counters nervous, but it is what makes Weezer, even on their aimless Make Believe album before this one, an exciting band.
So when Cuomo sarcastically lets the record company suits have it for claiming there was no single here, he writes about it in "Pork and Beans."
"Timbaland knows the way
To reach the top of the charts
Maybe if I work with him
I can perfect the art."
It's a soon-to-be classic. But for me, the clincher was "Heart Songs," where Cuomo follows his musical evolution from listening to corny AM radio hits from Michael Jackson to Eddie Rabbit, but hitting the turning point when he hears the album that had "a baby on it, he was naked on it." It's a flattering, sincere ode to the transcendent release of musical creativity (and also one of the most heartfelt songs the band has ever done). It makes Weezer's Red Album their most personal since the confessional Pinkerton, and a solid addition to their discography.
Troublemaker - This opening track is crazy catchy, but doesn't really go to many places and is probably one of the weakest tracks on the album(especially lyric wise). "Marrying a biatch, Having seven Kiads"...?? The track is able to keep you on your feet, but that's about it.
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived - The most epic track on the album crosses over to many different genres. The song constantly changes for the whole six minutes of the song includes challenging choral pieces, punk breakdowns, pop verses, and original Weezer and Rock melodies.
Pork and Beans - The first single of the album. In a way, it was a tease for what was to come for the album since a chorus of a Weezer song hasn't sounded like this for years. While the verse has a new Weezer feel, the chorus takes you back to 1994. Written after an intense meeting with Geffen, Rivers angrily went home to write this song that is an allout backlash at the record company for not respecting the freedom of the band. "Imma do the things that I want to, I ain't got a thing to prove to you". One of the strongest tracks on the entire album for sure.
Heart Songs - Rivers' influences mean a lot to him. Which is why this sincere ballad another one of the strongest tracks on the album. Describing all of his influences by name, Rivers mentions all of the rockstars and past musicians that helped him become who he is today. At times, the song sounds a bit corny moving into the chorus. But, the bridge is one of the strongest bits on the entire album with insanely catchy overlapping vocals and distorted guitars. He mentions that his room mate showed him "Nevermind" by Nirvana, and that it "broke the chains it had up on me" and by that time he set out to start a rock band with his friends.
Everybody Get Dangerous - One of the hardest tracks on the album. *Personally* its my least favorite on the entire album next to Troublemaker. But at the same time, the song starts out absolutely rockin. I also feel like the verses are really strong. Reminiscent also of the chili peppers and maybe zeppelin. The chorus seems a bit corny, especially with the "boo yah"! The highlight of the song is towards the end where Pat goes off by himself, and the rest of the band is just shouting having fun.
Dreamin' - Rivers pushed this one to be on the album. I see why he did it too. Maybe not the strongest track, but it definitely brings back the Weezer feel to the album. It sounds like a lost track off of Make Believe or Maladroit. Sort of has a "Keep Fishin" type of feel but a little harder. Also, a pretty interesting breakdown with Brian singing lead. Very psychedelic sounding, and then it gets a bit more poppy as it goes on.
Thought I Knew - Brian's song on the album. He sings lead vocals. It definitely has a "Space Twins" or "The Relationship" type of feel on the album. It doesn't sound like a Weezer song at all. But it is a good tune, it just doesn't feel like it flows too well with the rest of the album. The lyrics are definitely nice, as well as the guitar work. The track itself is really great, but I'm not too sure it belongs on here.
Cold Dark World - Scotts song on the album. Another weak one on the album (personally I feel this way). The song doesn't really go anywhere. It just feels dead. Scotts not exactly singing in the verse, its more talking. The chorus "Angel come in a cold dark world, im gonna be your man". The chorus had potential but doesn't really hit it right. The strongest part of the song is when the guitar has a break by itself. It's really pretty.
Automatic - Pats song on the album. Very rockin and pretty awesome. It's really in your face. The only thing that was a dissapointment was the tempo. In the remix that was first released, the tempo was set MUCH MUCH higher. And it gave a whole new feel to the song. Pats vocal perfomance is impressive, and this was definitely a good choice from him and the band to put this one on. Very solid track.
The Angel And The One - One of my favorites on this album by far. This song has one of Rivers' best performances in years. Or maybe it's just nice to hear him talking about love again. It is by far the best album closer since Pinkerton, and has Rivers describing how he is at peace with his love life "I am complete, is what im sayin. I'm flying up so high, my purple majesty displaying". Even the guitar work is beautiful towards the end. Which is nice to hear since the album barely showcases any guitar work. Nothing else to say except that this is a beautiful song.
The other 4 deluxe tracks are amazing. Miss Sweeney starts to sound like Old Weezer but at first sounds like something completely new until it hits the chorus, the full band version of "Pig" is utterly satisfying compared to the demo, The Spider is beautiful and actually very trippy sounding, and lastly King is a great acoustic song sung by Scott. This one should have replaced Cold Dark World. King is a very strong track. I guess the only thing I have to say is that I was dissapointed that there wasn't one real guitar solo on the whole album. Also, the b sides/covers are really awesome so I suggest everybody tries to get their hands on them. Enjoy the album everyone, it is yet another success by Weezer.
1. Troublemaker -- Fairly standard Weezer fare, really, although a bit more pop than perhaps their earlier stuff. Enjoyable, but not really memorable.
2. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived -- Yes, it's strange and rarely repeats -- save for the main chorus -- but each section is pretty catchy on it's own. They lyrics are pretty hilarious.
3. Pork and Beans -- Again, fairly standard Weezer fare, backed by a great video. It's pretty catchy, but not really that interesting.
4. Heart Songs -- Yes, it sounds a bit cheesy when it starts, but it's a great song, backed by an experience we all share: those songs that never leave you, that will always be important no matter how much time passes. It builds really nicely, too.
5. Everybody Get Dangerous -- For what it's worth, I liked "We Are All On Drugs," which probably informs my opinion of this song. I enjoy the heck out of it. The chord changes are great and the lyrics are hilarious -- a great job of taking me back to my youth and a legitimate question: what do we do when our kids act like we did?
6. Dreamin' -- An obvious single, made less obvious by the outro, which is really cool. A good song and classic Weezer.
7. Thought I Knew -- Yes, Brian sings lead on this. And, yes, it doesn't sound like a Weezer song at all, even on a album that's redefining what a "Weezer" song is. On it's own merits, this might be a great song, but it's simply too jarring to hear on the album.
8. Cold Dark World -- Scott sings lead on this one and it's much less jarring to me. I actually like this song. It's fairly driving and Scott delivers his vocals a lot like Rivers (who sings on the choruses).
9. Automatic -- I think this might be Pat on vocals here. Again, a twist from Weezer, but not completely different. It's an okay song. I think a big problem people might have with this album is the fact that these three songs come in a row.
10. The Angel and The One -- This is a great song. This is classic, heartfelt Weezer. I read a review where someone said this album didn't have the emotional appeal that previous Weezer albums have had, and while that might be true on a whole, this song (and Heart Songs) just really hit home.
11. Miss Sweeney -- I agree with a previous reviewer -- this song makes the bonus album a required purchase. It's just a great song and Rivers' vocal delivery is just so great. It's songs like this that make you realize just how creative Weezer can be.
12. Pig -- Another good one, kind of folksy, kind of earthy, but still quirky in that Weezer way.
13. The Spider -- Yeah, it's a little bizarre and kind of sounds like one of Rivers' home recordings. It might grow on me in time, but now it's just kind of there.
14. King -- Man, I don't know if Scott writes the vocal lines and lyrics or if Rivers handles that and just has Scott sing it, but I have to say that he's pretty freaking great. This is probably better than "Cold Dark World."
Overall, I think it's a good album. I'd have given it 3 and a half stars initially, but I'm sure it will earn the extra half a star going forward.
Imagine being part of one of *the* defining rock bands of the mid-'90s post-grunge era -- a band whose members kick-started their careers with back-to-back, indisputable masterpieces (the blue-hued, self-titled debut "Weezer" and its painfully personal, less-pop-sensible follow-up "Pinkerton"). Now imagine the pressure that comes with trying to meet or exceed the stratospheric expectations of both critics and rabid fans looking for you and your bandmates to recreate that magic on subsequent releases -- to, in essence, make lightning strike twice, *twice*.
The band's 2001 comeback (also titled "Weezer," but nicknamed "The Green Album" because of the cover art's color palette) came closest to appeasing their mass of followers, partly because it was seen as somewhat of a return to form, but mostly because it was also literally Weezer's "return" after a four-year hiatus. By the time 2002's mildly praised "Maladroit" came out, even some of the band's most devout loyalists began to lose hope. And don't even mention 2005's schmaltzy "Make Believe" (or its ubiquitous, love-it-or-hate-it single "Beverly Hills") to a Weezer fan unless you want to get punched in the face.
So, does the band's sixth LP "Weezer" (dubbed "The Red Album" for clarity's sake) manage to finally recapture the glory days of the emo-pop foursome at their creative peak? Well ... no. I think by now, it's obvious that doing so would be impossible, which is why I believe "Red" (and the rest of the post-"Pinkerton" albums, for that matter) shouldn't be judged against the band's earlier work. Instead, it should be appreciated for what it is: a well-rounded collection of catchy, decent-to-great pop songs that, at the very least, will leave even the most finicky Weezophile satisfied.
If you've logged on to YouTube in the last couple of weeks, there's a good chance you've seen the video for "Pork and Beans," the album's first single. It's the band's latest incarnation of "Buddy Holly" -- after "Hash Pipe," "The Good Life," "Keep Fishin'" and "Beverly Hills" -- and was written by lead singer Rivers Cuomo to spite record executives who pressured him to pen a radio-friendly hit. (Ironically, with its inescapable chorus and driving guitar rhythms, all crammed into a perfect three-minute run time, "Pork and Beans" is the summer's prime candidate for nonstop airplay on Top 40 stations across the country.)
Elsewhere, Cuomo plants his tongue firmly in his cheek for a song detailing rock star excess ("Troublemaker"); "boo-yah"s his way through a speedy, metal-inspired tune about his days as a reckless teenage prankster ("Everybody Get Dangerous"); and lays out a laundry list of his diverse musical influences ("Heart Songs"). The band's most epic experiment to date comes in the form of "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)," a six-minute, Queen-esque rock opera that cobbles together rapping, Prince-like falsetto wailing and church-choir backing vocals.
When I heard each of the three other band members -- guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Patrick Wilson -- would be getting lead-vocal duties for one track apiece on this album, I was a bit leery. And alas, after hearing their respective entries, my fears were largely confirmed. Bell's "Thought I Knew," Shriner's "Cold Dark World" and Wilson's "Automatic" aren't necessarily "bad" songs; their biggest detriment is simply due to the fact that, without Cuomo's trademark voice, not one of them is identifiable as a Weezer Song. Sequenced one after another near the end of the album, they have a jarring effect on the listener, like someone placed a trio of generic alt-rock staples from 1999 on the CD as a joke.
The best way to wash the aftertaste of those misfires out of your mouth is to pick up the deluxe edition of "Weezer," which includes four Cuomo-sung bonus cuts, including fan favorite "Pig" and the heart-laid-bare "Miss Sweeney," about a real estate executive who secretly pines for his secretary.
Pound for pound, The Red Album is another solid effort from the elder statesmen of emo. And although this album doesn't come close to matching the decade-defining influence of Weezer's first two outings, it definitely gets points for *not* trying.
However, after the first 3 tracks, things get a little weird. Where Weezer used to stand out from the bland, generic alternative rock of their peers, they now seem to eagerly embrace it. Songs like "Everybody Get Dangerous" and "Automatic" sound like bad late 90s alt-rock radio rejects (although "Dangerous" does eventually delve into a bizarre bridge about Rivers' future children slicing up his house with ninja swords, which is interesting). "The Angel and The One," which seems to be an attempt at recapturing the epic spirit of "Only In Dreams," comes off more as a bad Creed song.
This album marks the first time that other members of the band have been allowed to lend lead vocals and songwriting to an album, which on paper sounded exciting. However, Weezer are known for such a distinct aesthetic (like Pitchfork said in their review, they're essentially a brand) that these songs sound like a completely different band. I admire their spirit of experimentation, but I feel like these songs should have ultimately been omitted in favor of a more consistend album and a more consistent sound as a band.
Forgetting, for a moment, the gag inducing detours into stale, outdated alt-rock cliches from the late 90s, there is one area in which I feel this album succeeds. On the songs that were actually written and sung by Rivers, he is actually being very direct and personal and writing things that come from a real place in his life. The lyrics on the past 3 albums have sounded as if they come from a soulless random-impersonal-lyric-generator, leaving the songs with a rather shallow feeling. Here, although the lyrics are frequently stumble inducingly awkward or overly sing-song-rhyme-y, you feel like Rivers is actually being sincere, and that's all Weezer fans have been asking for for the past decade. In that regard, I'm pleased.
As far as the bonus tracks go, "Ms. Sweeney", "Pig" and "The Spider" are very interesting and see Rivers returning to the weirdness of some of his older B-sides, which is promising. What they lack in focus and hook they make up for in quirky charm.
Overall, this is an album that only a die-heard Weezer fan needs to purchase, and even then only to listen to a couple times and wonder "why?" Otherwise, just buy the first 3 tracks and enjoy them on their own. I give it 3 stars for the undeniable charm of "Pork and Beans" and "Greatest Man," along with the 3 decent bonus tracks (do yourself a favor and don't even listen to "King").