If there’s anything to say about this record, I think the title does an adequate job. It’s alright. It’s not great- it’s not terrible. It’s just alright, and considering where Weezer’s been in the years since their first stumble, Make Believe, alright isn’t half-bad.
This is an album that’s a clear Throwback Thursday, where the garage is now a shack and the band looks back on past endeavors with a forced ironic detachment. We know Rivers is being honest about settling down with his girl and making up with his dad (chronicled during his interview on WTF with Marc Maron), but is he honestly sorry that he alienated his granted much-older thanks to collaborations with Lil Wayne and Chamillionare? Is he serious about forgetting that disco sucks, when only songs later we’re subjected to the dance-happy verses of “I’ve Had It Up To Here”.
I’m not sure so.
There is a lot Blue and Green on this album- simple chords progressions hidden underneath simple guitar and vocal harmonies..”Lonely Girl” and “Go Away” are perfect reproductions of the whole gestalt of the great SS2k and Songs from the Black Hole, and could easily be hidden gems recently rediscovered. “Lonely Girl” has more in common with “Paperface” than any songs on this album.
We can also find some Maladroit in melodic solos and chugging rhythms of “Cleopatra”, with it’s killer bridge, one of the highlights of the album. “Foolish Father” takes that dark, bittersweet vibe further, returning to overall ‘everything will be alright’ theme originally hinted at in the opening of the album.
While the hushed female tones of the album’s opening voice over certainly harkens back to the transition from “Pink Triangle” to “Falling for You,” I think there’s more at play here. We know Rivers loves the overarching story of the concept album, never on the nose, but in the background. And he seems to often play the archetype of the prodigal son, the returning outcast who disappears for periods of time and comes back wiser and more educated. I think there’s more to the story of the titular refrain of ‘everything will be alright in the end’ which is first heard from a mother to a son, then later in a song about a “Foolish Father”. Couple that with the beautiful and imaginative album art depicting a large, not fearsome monster in an autumnal dusk. There’s something to be said about the mildly operatic and autobiographical undercurrent that adds depth to the album. And that depth is delivered with a heavy dose of nostalgia, both for childhood and for earlier Weezer albums.
For the snobbiest of Weezer fans, the catalog really ends at Maladroit, and we’d like to hope that the album’s references ended there as well. Unfortunately, there’s still enough sappy pop ala Make Believe on tracks like “Eulogy for a Rock Band” with it’s Kelly Clarkson chorus. Then there’s the pop culture-reference laden sap in “Da Vinci” that takes what could’ve been a subtle goofball like “El Scorcho” and instead gives us a “Pork and Beans”.
They end with the three-song suite. This could’ve become another “Greatest Man in the World”, but it isn’t. It isn’t anything great, it doesn’t hit us with the raw emotional electricity of the second half of Pinkerton, nothing outside of Pinkerton does, and it’s probably not quite as complex or meaty as “Only in Dreams”, both of which are clearly referenced. Yet somehow you do come out feeling alright in the end. Not blown away, but impressed, grateful, and ready to hear what’s next.