On the strength of Weezer’s third self-titled album, it could be perceived as though Rivers Cuomo set out just to mess with us when he embarked on a career in music; christening an album with a colour according to whether he’s about to either strike gold with a soulful slew of tasty pop nuggets or simply knock out another slick slab of predictable cast-offs. Look at the evidence: Maladroit and Make Believe, pack your bags, you’re going to the charity shop. Pinkerton, you can stay, but you owe your life to El Scorcho. And 'Red'? You can slide right in next to 'Blue' and 'Green', chief.
For the most part, Cuomo and co make admirable headway in recapturing the playful innocence that made Weezer so alluring in the first place and it’s refreshing to hear the ever-eccentric bespectacled one get wrapped up in the daft but oh so self-aware bravado offered by the opening salvo. Troublemaker and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived are clear two fingered salutes to anybody who might still be looking at Weezer funny, whilst the harmonies subscribe to the Brian Wilson School and the guitar distortion works overtime.
Pork and Beans – as an alleged reaction to Geffen’s demand for more commercial material from the band – is simultaneously a contender for the most barbed and irresistible single they’ve committed to date. Heart Songs, on the other hand, pays a bizarre hero worship to Cuomo’s record collection where everybody from Slayer to Springsteen and Devo to Debbie Gibson are crammed within a few couplets. But what could have been dismissed as a pop cultural iconophile’s dream instead reveals itself as a window to Cuomo’s geek rock soul.
Our host stops shy of too gratuitous a hunt through the vinyl crate as the rest of the band lead us to the finale with a song apiece; guitarist Brian Bell evokes vintage Neil Finn on Thought I Knew while bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Pat Shriner each offer their own straight up, no frills – but utterly digestible – rock numbers with Cold Dark World and Automatic respectively. And that’s it, classic Weezer: eccentric but not pretentious, or with any ounce of bullshit about it. The Red Album's a keeper, and even though the law of Weezerages says the even numbers are nearly always a return to form, 2014's Magenta Album will have a hard act to follow.
Weezer - Pork and Beans