So, you want to be a rock 'n' roll star? No, you don't. In a post-everything pop culture, in which stardom packs all the allure of a 4 a.m. whore and rock stars come and go with the frequency of a ham radio signal, what you really want is something more enduring. What you want is to be a rock 'n' roll legend.
Fortunately, Weezer's provided a handy rock-legend how-to guide. Step 1: Release monster album that captures Zeitgeist of generation. Step 2: Question artistic integrity and follow said Zeitgeist capturer with self-indulgent "masterpiece" that becomes holy grail to indie-rock hopefuls. Step 3: Endure widespread fan-base desertion. Step 4: Fall off face of Earth. Step 5: Rise from ashes and reclaim modern-rock radio.
Weezer's smart, but not that smart. No, the band's legendary status is just another freak occurrence in a long line of freak occurrences. Traditionally speaking, pocket-protector rock is not a commercially viable genre -- or at least it wasn't, until the group's 1994 self-titled debut somehow sold two million units of quirky, metal-infused power pop to the masses. Still, too-clever hit videos had critics crying "gimmick," sending Weezer No. 1, Rivers Cuomo, spiraling into bearded reclusion.
And so the unlikely became even unlikelier. Pinkerton saw the band shedding its sunny skin, venturing inward on a dark journey toward singer-songwriterdom. It won Cuomo the critical respect he was after, but alienated much of his group's hooks-hankerin' audience, which was left wondering what in tarnation had become of its sweet geeks. Zero radio play, sluggish album sales -- Weezer was finished. Or so they thought.
During the ensuing five years, a cult bloomed around the beloved band. Emo-core outfits embraced them as one of the scene's forebears. Big love that helped coerce the Weez out of hiding -- nerve-addled club shows, last year's show-stealing stint on the Warped Tour, the sold-out Yahoo! Outloud Tour. And they hadn't released so much as a lick of new material.
Until now: Weezer. If the album title and cover art are familiar, so is the collection's producer, Ric Ocasek -- all clear indications that the four-piece has dropped the bulk of Pinkerton's dear-diary baggage/sonic assault and is back to its old snap-crackle-and-pop ways. Consider the ubiquitous first single, a tranny-hooker slice-of-life called "Hash Pipe." Boozy falsetto, bedroom grunts, chugging guitars -- infectious summertime naughtiness.
Thirty minutes divided by 10 tracks equals three-minute blasts of sugar-pop perfection. That's the math behind Weezer -- the hand claps of "Photograph," the "Baby Blue" guitar lead of "Glorious Day," the three-part harmonies of "Crab." Hell, even the love-as-war sentiment of "Knock Down Drag Out" and the irreparable heartbreak of "O Girlfriend" are oddly . . . cheery. Isn't this what we loved about the fellas to begin with?
Let's see: Band runs pop-art gantlet, emerging brighter, tighter than ever. So, you want to be a rock 'n' roll legend, do you? Take notes.
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