Salena Moran & Evan Penrod | Staff Writers
Weezer proves they will “do the things they wanna do” even if that means releasing their bland and forgettable 13th studio release, Black Album. Following the Teal Album (2019) and the White Album (2016), the anticipated Black Album was quoted by Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s frontman, as being a “beach boys gone dark” and listeners originally anticipated a more serious Weezer album compared to their brighter, 90s/00s rock persona. The Black Album came out to a tough crowd already poking fun at the recent Teal Album featuring covers of famous songs in the traditional Weezer style from “Africa” by Toto to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”
The Black Album released March 1 and promised a more somber tone from Weezer never previously explored. While Weezer was hoping to reinvent the wheel with an edgier side, the overall album came across as just another Weezer album on the shelf of disappointments — except, of course, for Blue Album (1994) and Pinkerton (1996). The Black Album feels so formulaic and generic, barely leaving a lasting impression.
Pinkerton’s (1996) more serious tone initially received unfavorable reviews, but it eventually evolved into an acclaimed album in the realm of great Weezer discography. With a similar description for the Black Album, traditional fans appeared hopeful for another album of hits. Instead, listeners received a mix of Top 40 influences mixed with odd pop-synth sound. Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone, but something is definitely missing from this new Black Album.
A few of the standout songs include “High as a Kite” and “Zombie Bastards,” which feel reminiscent of Weezer’s early 2000s sound. Moreover, the songwriting overall has some of Weezer’s most poignant and sensible lyricism yet. Perhaps these highlights are the only two saving graces of this album that prevent it from being a total bust, however these aspects are clearly overshadowed.
Most of the songs attempt peculiar musical choices like talk-singing. In “Too Many Thoughts” and “Within my Head,” the talk-singing verses felt forced and out of place when compared to lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s iconic Weezer vocals. With the addition of the outrageous drum beat in “California Snow,” these tracks earned their spots as some of Weezer’s worst ever.
Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this album is that there are hints of greatness that, with enough care and attention to quality, could have made for a much more satisfying final product. The entire album is held back by disastrous and/or average pieces that almost sound too rushed, resulting in a rather forgettable album.
The idea that Weezer’s biggest hit in the last few years has been their meme-worthy cover of “Africa” by Toto has just left a bad taste in the mouths of traditional Weezer fans. The White Album (2016) provided a glimmer of hope for Weezer’s future, but also resulted in disappointment as an accomplishment that could never be reached again. Although the future of Weezer albums is up in the air, the band is commendable for always “doing it their own way and never giving up.”
In the end, it is a shame that lyrically, this album is as fantastic as ever in parts; however, this aspect was white noise in the grand scope of the overall album. Weezer should just write for boy bands and for Top 40 bands because the traditional Weezer sound, like our hope in a great comeback, has faded away long ago.