Weezer’s Teal Album dropped last month. It is an album of covers of hits from the 80s and 90s. To get the main point across about this album first, Weezer’s Teal Album is very fun to listen to. Each track remixes a good old song with Weezer’s signature sound.
But is the Teal Album good? It depends on who you ask. Pitchfork recently released a scathing review, and others have expressed hopeless disappointment, not just about this album, but in Weezer’s work over the last two decades. It’s a tired old tirade; those who once loved Weezer now feel disillusioned and spiteful at who Weezer has become. SNL even did a skit a couple months back about the divided nature of Weezer’s fanbase.
“Why has Weezer fallen so far from grace in the eyes of its fans,” you may ask. It’s not hard to see the trends Weezer has surfed to stardom. In fact, it’s Weezer’s savvy grasp of popular culture trends that has both alienated their dearest fans and kept the band afloat for the last twenty years.
The album art on Weezer’s self-titled 1994 album is iconic. The band stands in a row across the cover against a smurf-blue backdrop. Even though this album was self-titled, it quickly became known affectionately as the Blue Album. The Blue Album painted an adorkable picture of the nerd life complete with songs about struggling to speak with girls and having socially shunned interests such as Dungeons and Dragons and comic books. River Cuomo’s lyrics were honest and vulnerable about the nerd life, and this resonated strongly with a lot of people. The Blue Album was met with huge success, going platinum several times.
Pinkerton, Weezer’s 1996 album, was met with moderate success by comparison to the Blue Album, and that’s putting it lightly. Critics called it one of the worst albums of the year. Pinkerton‘s songs were, however, still heartfelt and pure. The emotions expressed by Rivers Cuomo on this album were even more emotionally vulnerable than before–possibly too vulnerable. Cuomo wrote songs about taboo sexual desires and the loves that would never happen. Songs about the utter dejection of a sexually frustrated man in constant pain. This album, in many ways, was at least as good as the first, but record sales and album reviews did not reflect its quality. Cuomo himself spoke harshly of this album in interviews. In 2001, he told Entertainment Weekly that he’d made “a complete fool” of himself in those songs.
It’s not difficult to imagine why Weezer’s third album, the Green Album, was devoid of emotional context. It was simply a series of hook-heavy pop rock songs. Vulnerability disappeared. The adorkable humor and charm were stagnant. Sales went up. Critics acclaimed it. And thus began the trend of Weezer’s commercially-trained success. The fans of the Blue Album and Pinkerton were not happy, and they still aren’t. But Weezer is still around, releasing one commercial pop rock album after the next.
Fast-forward to 2019. Weezer has an expansive discography with more albums reportedly on the way. Their music is, for the most part, fine. It’s just fine. But the cult following of Pinkerton and the Blue Album still insists that Weezer sold out a long time ago. Winning back their approval may be impossible at this point–especially if they keep indulging the mainstream. And the Teal Album is nothing if not a solid album of mainstream music. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the old sound too. Pinkerton is one of my favorite albums of all time. But holding every new Weezer album to a standard of Pinkerton is unfair. Weezer are a very different band now, and bands should be allowed to change over time.
To reiterate, Weezer’s Teal Album is fun to listen to. It is not at all like the Blue Album or Pinkerton, but it shouldn’t have to be. With Weezer’s upcoming Black Album set to release March 1st, I look forward to giving it a fair chance.
Listen to the album if you haven’t yet, and let us know what you thought as well!
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