Weezer’s White Album Fails to Innovate, but Lyrics Stand Out

April 8, 2016

Eight years and four albums later, Weezer has returned to their tradition of color-themed self-titled records with Weezer (White Album). Producer Jake Sinclair told Rolling Stone he wanted to return to the band’s original sound from their Blue Album, but frontman Rivers Cuomo wanted to create something new. The White Album is not very innovative for Weezer, but despite its mostly unremarkable music, the lyrics make the record stand out.

The White Album is one of Weezer’s more thematically focused albums, drawing on romantic relationships to contrast hope, loss, and longing. Each song seems to have a specific inspiration, revolving around a specific idea. Cuomo has said that he searched for such inspiration on the dating app Tinder.

For some tracks, it’s easy to speculate about the story that might have provided their inspiration, while others are more open to interpretation. The more optimistic “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” and “Wind In Our Sail” clearly draw on positive dating experiences while the darker “Do You Wanna Get High?” is more cryptic. Cuomo demonstrates his talent as a songwriter by creating a series of absorbing tracks. As the singer in “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” describes the “jingle, jingle” of Hare Krishnas’ tambourines and plans for a destination wedding in Puerto Rico, he connects listener with the joy his newfound love gives to him. It’s this kind of immersion into each song that makes the record feel almost like a collection of vignettes.

The lyrics are the most gratifying element of the record. Having a clear, unifying idea through each song allows Cuomo to make ludicrous leaps within their narratives. “Thank God For Girls” opens with a detailed description of a girl making a cannoli and ends with a version of the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib. And the lyrics themselves find comedy in their level of detail. In a particularly erudite twist, “Wind In Our Sail” references Darwin, Mendel, and Sisyphus, and “L.A. Girlz” quotes Through the Looking Glass. These showcase Cuomo’s creativity as a lyricist, as he keeps the words engaging and even humorous.

If one of Weezer’s goals was to create something “radically different,” as Cuomo said, the White Album is only a tepid success. There are some attempts at experimentation, but you would be forgiven for thinking some of the songs were repeated from previous albums. “King Of The World” is a particularly flagrant offense, relying on the distorted guitar for which Weezer has come to be known. The final track, “Endless Bummer,” is one of the rare Weezer songs to use acoustic guitar, but ending the album with an acoustic song imitates their second album, Pinkerton.

That being said, some songs do manage to depart from Weezer’s usual style. “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” is a refreshing change, with its cheerful tone, higher tune, and focus on the lead guitar. The use of keys is also a welcome addition to Weezer’s usual quiver of instruments.

Maybe Sinclair and Cuomo didn’t completely succeed at their goals of replicating the success of Weezer’s first two albums while creating a new sound. But the White Album is still one of the band’s better albums. Weezer (White Album) highlights the signature sound that Weezer has developed over their two decades and showcases Rivers Cuomo’s strength as a lyricist. If nothing else, this record will increase fans’ anticipation for the upcoming Black Album.


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