Six studio albums into their career, one of our all-time favorite bands, geek rock pioneers Weezer, have released what is probably their finest CD yet.
A nerd rock masterpiece, the so-called “Red Album” — a companion of sorts to their self-titled Blue and Green albums — finds our boys boldly branching out in whole new directions. And the effect is just plain dizzying…I shit you not, amigos, this Rick Rubin-produced album is kind of the band’s version of “Pet Sounds”.
And if you haven’t checked out The Beach Boys’ iconic “Pet Sounds”, well, get thee to iTunes, my friend. It will literally change the way you think about L.A. pop-rock, hell, even music in general. You’ll love it! And judging from the songs on “The Red Album”, Weezer clearly did too!
Having mastered the catchy pop-rock hook in previous outings, lead singer Rivers Coumo and company have taken everything they’ve learned over the years and crafted something really special here. “The Red Album” has a sonic maturity and a winking, self-deprecating charm that will leave you laughing and weeping at the same time.
Seriously, some of the songs here are f-ing beautiful! And the lyrics…wow! Track four’s “Heart Songs” about the bands and musicians — Cat Stevens, Quiet Riot, Devo and Debbie Gibson to name a few — who inspired Weezer on their way to greatness is hilarious. Especially cool is the way the song totally changes midway through with the injection of a pounding, grunge-laden guitar riff.
Instantly darkening the tone and deepening the emotion of the song, the intensely-personal lyrics here portray the profound impact of Nirvana’s groundbreaking “Nevermind” on Cuomo and his bandmates. Poignant, heartfelt, and catchy as all hell, the song wraps up by detailing the band’s own rise to fame. If there is any justice in the world, “Heart Songs” will be Weezer’s next “Buddy Holly” break-out hit. It’s incredible.
Even more sophisticated is the band’s “wall of sound” anthem, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)”. Incorporating military-style chants, police sirens, manic, hip hop urgency, the epic rock drama of a vintage Queen ballad, and Aaron Copland’s soaring “Appalachian Spring”, the song is destined to be a classic.
And just when you think it can’t get any cooler, this almost six-minute opus incorporates some of the slyest, self-reverential humor ever recorded. I mean, really, who else could chant: “I am the greatest man that ever lived…” with such deadpan sincerity? Awesome!
And the rest of the album is equally bad-ass, with “Pork and Beans” and the more traditionally-Weezer-ish “Troublemaker”, destined to get plenty of airtime this summer. And the final song on the album, “The Angel and the One” is so simple and lovely that you’ll want to listen to it every night. I think that Richard Cromelin, in his review for the L.A. Times nailed the impact of the song when he described “The Angel and the One” as “end[ing] this march through the material plane on a note of spiritual transcendence”.
You got that right, Richard! Oh, and even better than the album is the price! I bought the standard 10-track version CD at Circuit City on Tuesday for $5.99! Insane, huh? But I should note that I have since found at least two other versions of “The Red Album” for sale online.
Amazon has a 14-track “Deluxe” edition available for $11.99, and iTunes has a 15-track “Deluxe” edition for $12.99. Hmmm…guess I’ll have to buy the other tracks online. But hey, even at 99-cents a pop, the entire album will still end up costing me around $10.99, so I’m still way ahead!
Rock on, Weezer!