ALBUM REVIEW: Weezer – Van Weezer

Release Date: May 7th 2021
Label: Crush Records/Atlantic Records


When ‘Van Weezer’ was initially announced almost two years ago, many were quick to anticipate an album that would showcase Weezer cos-playing as 80s hair metal icons. Its initial singles, ‘The End Of The Game’ and ‘Hero’, were quick to dispel these notions, clarifying Rivers Cuomo‘s statements on the project being a return to “big guitars”.

While ‘Pinkerton’ or ‘Maladroit’ this ain’t, it’s a worthy companion to say ‘The White Album’, with a welcome return to crunchy power chords, and shredding, virtuosic solos, but now with a special, part-homage, part-tongue firmly in cheek effort to make any and all classic rock and metal leanings as brazen as possible.

From the flashy finger-tapping opening of the aforementioned lead single, to the ludicrous fretwork behind the immensely catchy ‘Beginning Of The End’, it’s a joy to hear the band give in just a tad to their more technical tendencies, all without sacrificing their core appeal. They really sound like they’re having a blast across the brief half-four runtime, with some bemusing, cheeky interpolations of everything from Blue Oyster Cult‘s ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ to the Ozzy Osbourne classic ‘Crazy Train’ on the ocean dwelling ‘Blue Dream’, a reworking of ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ demo ‘Battle Of The Briny’, no doubt to placate and befuddle fans in equal measure.

There’s also the decidedly un-Weezer sounding ‘1 More Hit’, which grooves with subtle menace before careening into a full-scale chugging hardcore beatdown section a la Turnstile. Yes, you read that correctly.

Lyrically, we’ve got girl worship (‘All The Good Ones’, ‘Sheila Can Do It’), equally earnest and sardonic odes to Cuomo‘s wife (‘She Needs Me’), plus goofy references to literature and film littered throughout, which are all admittedly standard Weezer fare, but with one subtle, key difference. It’s not difficult to catch the constant, lyrical meta-commentary alluding to their decision to drop an album like this well into their forties, “Watch us brush off the dust, in heavy metal we trust, then kick back and read the Sunday Times”.

On the anthemic, self-preserving ‘I Need Some Of That’, there’s a quip about “Listening to Aerosmith, later on I will call my mom.” It makes for a witty observation on the communal escapism we all flock to heavy music for, the need to return to the inanities of the real world for reasons both obligatory and rewarding, but mostly it highlights that feeling and passion you had when you were “just a little punk day-dreaming of my escape” that can still be well and truly alive and with you decades later in your “hatchback raging, riding up and down this block”.

Only four months removed from the lush, orchestral, introspective predecessor ‘OK Human’, Weezer double down with a familiar, playful batch of power-pop bangers, taking just enough cues from metal, classic rock, and glam to facilitate an album title that most likely originated as a joke.