Weezer (The Teal Album)

Weezer

Atlantic, 2019

http://www.weezer.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/25/2019

Dear God, why?

I’m not against covers albums. Bands sometimes do them when they’re stalling until the next album, or needing to just play songs they love. Think of Renegades, The Spaghetti Incident, that one Smithereens album where they played the Beatles B-sides, etc.

Except: how many people list those albums as their favorites by the band in question? None, because they often amount to karaoke efforts. The occasional cover track is awesome, but a full album of covers is rarely necessary.

In this case, Weezer’s fourth self-titled album (and the first that doesn’t deserve that honor, since it’s not Weezer songs) is basically an extended gimmick. The cover of Toto’s “Africa” is legendary by now, an Internet prank that the band took seriously and a resulting song that was not only a massive (and baffling) hit but one that reintroduced the band to a new audience and to old fans who had forgotten about them. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So Rivers, evidently, decided to strike while the memes were hot and record a full album of covers, half of them ‘80s pop songs, the rest showing at least some creativity. The opening brace of tracks is mind-numbing; you can hear “Africa,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” “Take On Me,” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” in any dentist’s office or “lite rock” station any day of the week. You don’t need to pay money for faithful recreations that sound exactly like middle-aged white guys attempting to “rock out” after two Coors Lites on a Friday night at Applebee’s.

The second side/half is marginally more interesting, in the same way that reading a shampoo bottle while you’re taking a dump is more interesting than reading the conditioner bottle because you forgot your phone. “Paranoid” is a fun romp through a Black Sabbath standard, but neither “Happy Together” nor “Mr. Blue Sky” say anything you need to hear, though the attention to detail (across the whole album, really) is solid.

A stiff start to “Billie Jean” turns into a decent cover with a little more power chords than Jackson’s original, though nobody will ever prefer this version, of course. More odd is the faithful, straight, and very white cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs,” played absolutely down the middle like it’s the most normal thing for Weezer to cover TLC. Right. And Donald Trump will be president someday!

Had this album come out without all the run-up to “Africa,” it probably wouldn’t be seen as a cash-in, but the whole enterprise just smells so strongly of a publicity stunt designed to gin up interest for the band’s next project (the Black Album, coming this spring, in case you’re thinking of something to mail to your ex and can’t find any anthrax).

Of course, Rivers Cuomo is not who he was in 1996, nor are any of us, so maybe it’s not fair to expect him to write Pinkerton over and over. But there’s a line between artistic integrity and blatant fan service/commercialization, and the Teal Album crosses it about five times. To their credit, Rivers and the band reproduce the songs with uncanny ability and the aforementioned detail. It’s not easy to do.

But, why?

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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