Van Weezer: Have the pop punk legends still got it 15 albums in?

Van Weezer has been a long time coming. Teased all the way back in 2019 with the first single, ‘The End of the Game’, the pandemic put a halt on things for a good while. However, the band stayed active throughout by releasing a further three singles in 2020 (one of which featured in the latest Bill and Ted movie) in order to keep up the hype for their fifteenth studio album. I have been a fan of Weezer for pretty much my whole life. Having grown up with them, despite not keeping up with their latest works, I still play their first few albums a lot today. Having said that, I’ve already listened to and fallen in love with the opening track. So let’s get on with the review, shall we?

As I said previously, I adore the opening track ‘Hero’. Everything about it screams great radio-rock single. From the verse’s vocals between the guitar chords to the rather simple and pretty relevant lyrics of one of the best choruses I’ve heard in years. I’m honestly trying hard not to say too much about it because I will just gush about it for a while. So, instead of doing my usual play by play on it, I’ll just say that no matter what music you like you should check this out. You won’t regret it. Heck, I would even put this up there with some of their early hits.

‘All the Good Ones’ opens on an almost indie rock guitar riff, but the sliding out of it is massively Weezer of them. The stripped back verse sounds great, starting with some simple bass and drums behind the vocals before the guitar is brought in over the top. It builds into a pretty simple but huge-sounding chorus – the vocal hook being so catchy and effective. The harmonies and backing vocals in the later choruses are great, too. There isn’t a great deal to this song. It’s effectively built around the fantastic chorus but it is a good, slower album track.

Next we have the album’s lead single that was originally released all the way back in 2019 – ‘The End of the Game’. It opens on some great guitar tapping that not only fits the album name perfectly but also reminds me that Weezer are all amazing at their chosen instruments – not just some songwriters who know some chords. The Van Halen inspiration continues into a riff that sounds a fair bit like Panama and has some great harmonics thrown in for good measure. The verse is pretty steady and simple again, being pretty similar to the previous song. The chorus is good but I would say it’s the weakest of the three so far. It would still be amazing to see it live, though! We get a brief, indie-style riff, but some more awesome guitar work in the background. Then a final chorus finishes things off. Whilst it is the lead single, I found myself enjoying this one the least out of the songs so far.

‘I Need Some of That’ is the most recent single from the album. It opens on a fun drum roll before heading into a pretty light-hearted riff – their signature high guitar leads shining through perfectly. They launch into another slower, stripped back verse but the chorus that follows is great. It features some extremely catchy vocals and even some catchy backing vocals and harmonies. Speaking of the lyrics, I can’t help but appreciate. Anyone who has been in a band before can relate deeply. Heck, it feels almost like an anthem for folk like us. We are even treated to a brief and simple (yet effective) guitar solo between the last choruses. We then get the 90s/early 2000s trope of leaving studio sound clips at the end of the song for a good 20 seconds. This is something I never particularly got or understood, however if there are people out there that enjoy them and don’t immediately skip them then great! Another awesome song and maybe my favourite outside of ‘Hero’ so far.

Now we reach a song that I should have heard by now as it was part of the soundtrack to Bill and Ted Face the Music. I am somehow yet to see that movie and that makes me sad. It opens on some ambient build-up before immediately dropping down into Rivers Cuomo’s vocals and clean guitar chords. It’s an odd transition but it sounds great. This one builds up a little slower than the previous songs. The distorted guitars come in for a second verse before we reach a chorus. In fact, the more I listen to this song, I cannot seem to find much of a chorus in it at all. There is a kick-ass guitar solo or two in it though, one that Bill and Ted would be proud of. I finally managed to find the chorus at the end of the song; it was simply just not all that catchy and there wasn’t a lot of difference between the chorus and the distorted verse so I lost track at first. It was still a good song and the first time since their debut I think I’ve found myself enjoying the instrumentation over the vocals.

‘Blue Dream’ blew my mind right from the get go due to the vast majority of the instrumentation being a blatant copy/homage to Ozzy’s brilliant ‘Crazy Train’. However, they do put some strange effect on the guitar during the first riff which makes the whole track sound a little like an early 2000s club song – definitely an odd change of pace. After that though, the song stays at a high quality. They have some fun with the iconic riffs and even squeeze in another pretty great guitar solo and some interesting half timed drums. While not as good as the actual ‘Crazy Train’, and not the best song on the album by a stretch due to a fairly weak chorus, it was still a fun, entertaining song that did something not a lot of artists do.

‘1 More Hit’ starts off with a surprisingly heavy, essentially a metal, riff. However, Rivers’ vocals come in and somehow immediately make it sound lighter. It builds into a pretty great chorus too – catchy and pretty comical lyrically. We then get an even HEAVIER riff coming out of the second chorus. Weezer gives us a breakdown which is in equal parts surprising and fantastic. It if anything just makes me want more metal from the band! We also get another 80s staple, a key change higher for the final chorus, channelling their inner Bon Jovi. I loved this and not just because I’m a huge metalhead, I promise! Another amazing Weezer song and one that has made the playlist!

‘Sheila Can Do It’ and ‘She Needs Me’ feel like the inevitable dip in quality that 95% of albums suffer from towards the end of the album. They’re not bad songs at all, but they feel a little more like filler songs than an album priority. The former gives off slight ‘Buddy Holly’ vibes, but unfortunately it isn’t quite up to the same quality. At least we got another fairly good guitar solo in the latter song, though!

The final track ‘Precious Metal Girl’ features my least favourite modern rock trope: ending on the slow song. It always makes it feel like such a damp, lacklustre ending and I don’t understand why so many bands don’t go out with a bang any more. However, outside of my personal preferences on how an album should be arranged, this is another amazing song. It’s simple – just Rivers’ vocals and an acoustic guitar, but it is very effective. The lyrics are a highlight for me too. They’re my favourite on the album by a fair margin. If this song wasn’t featured at the end of the album, I might have been even better. However, it is still one of the best songs on the album.

Overall: I enjoyed this WAY more than I was expecting to. As I said, I am a big fan of the band but I haven’t checked out a whole bunch of their latest stuff over the last ten years or so. There was nothing bad here; a couple of the songs weren’t up to the same quality as the rest, but there were also some that stood out. If they hadn’t released ‘Hero’ last year as a single, it may have been my favourite song of the year so far. The likes of ‘I need Some of That’ and ‘1 More Hit’ are some of the best songs I’ve heard from Weezer since the very early 2000s. Overall, a very enjoyable album.

Score: 7.5/10

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