Welcome to Junk Mail, where a few Music Times staffers email back-and-forth about each week's biggest release throughout the work day. This week, Carolyn Menyes, Kyle Dowling and Caitlin Carter chat about Weezer's new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section, and check back next week for more.
Caitlin Carter: It's no surprise to find that Weezer's new album Everything Will Be Alright In The End was a return to their classic, earnest '90s sound. With singles such as "Back to the Shack" preceding this release, I think it's safe to say we were prepared to review this album with comparisons to "classic Weezer" in mind. So how do you think Rivers Cuomo and company did?
Carolyn Menyes: I'll precede my Junk Mail part by saying I've spent a LOT of time talking about Weezer and this album over the last month or two. So, excuse all my long thoughts.
To start, this album feels a lot like Weezer's last comeback record, "The Green Album" to me. Sonically, it's really simple with simple chord progressions, the third verse guitar solo and Cuomo's voice pretty low in the mix. But, this is what Weezer wanted us to think, because "Back to the Shack" has no subtleties in its lyrics, they're straight up telling us the concept for Everything Will Be Alright in the End.
So, in the end, is everything alright (sorry)? I'd say yes. This is easily Weezer's best album since Maladroit. Admittedly, that isn't a difficult thing to achieve, but I think for Weezer fans it seemed impossible.
Kyle Dowling: I'm delighted to say that I've listened to Weezer in the past... which is a nice change of pace from our previous Junk Mails. Now, that's not to say that I'm a Weeze-o-phile (?) but I do know that I really liked Everything Will Be Alright In The End. It sounds perfectly Weezer, if that makes any sense. This band always manages to come across as rather charming in their songs, but I'd say this is the best in a long while. I think they did a fine job on this album and keeping true to it's title... because everything was alright in the end, as Carolyn has pointed out.
CC: EWBAITE (gross acronym, I know) seemed to follow three different themes: a self-aware apology to fans/a more abstract look at how band relates to audience, songs about his relationship with a girl, and songs about his relationship with his father. I suppose this could be considered a concept album of sorts. The only outlier of that formula was "The British Are Coming." It was nice to see them get nerdy again on that one. On first listen, the album started off a little weak for me but really picked up toward the middle and end. It took a second listen for the whole album to really pack a punch, but everything was alright in the end (sorry guys).
CM: Interesting reading on "The British Are Coming." To me, that song was very obviously a thinly veiled metaphor for Weezer coming back to save rock. Because, you know, the British Invasion and such (even though Weezer is from L.A.). Cuomo has never been a master of subtlety.
That's actually what I felt like this entire album was about, minus the more personal Cuomo songs about his father and his family. Weezer is ALL about coming back to save rock and please its fans on this album. "Back to the Shack" is the most obvious lyrically, but this theme is also grossly obvious in "Cleopatra," "Eulogy for a Rock Band" and "Ain't Got Nobody."
But, yeah, it also wouldn't be a Weezer album is Cuomo didn't talk about his dad and, eventually, his own daughter hence "Foolish Father." And the saviors of rock are also still deeply nerdy and awkward, hence "Lonely Girl."
KD: Did anyone else really enjoy the collaboration on "Go Away"? The lyrics are incredibly simple but I thought it was really well put together and very heartbreaking, especially with Bethany Cosentino's lyric, "That was your last chance." Ouch!
Having listened to Everything Will Be Alright In The End a couple of times through now, I can safely say that it doesn't dip for me... it's a solid listen all the way through.
CC: Imagine being Cosentino and performing with one of your childhood heroes. Super cool. I definitely think the collaboration worked, and I've come back to that track a few times now. My favorite track has to be "Anonymous," though. "Cleopatra" also caught my attention right away.
CM: "Cleopatra" is really great -- I love the production of it and I love how many stops and starts and twists and turns the track takes. It feels like a three-in-one, which is something Weezer's always been pretty good at, so I'm glad to see it here.
Weezer actually made a Facebook post yesterday (Oct. 7) to see what fans wanted to be the next single and the choices were "Go Away," "Da Vinci" and "Ain't Got Nobody." I feel like they're pushing for the latter, considering they played it on Kimmel last night, but if they were smart they'd pick "Go Away." It seems like most people's favorite song and it's that simple, sweet kind of song that can resonate with a pop audience, if need be (not like Weezer wants that right now).
You guys were talking about the flow of the album. Caitlin, you thought the beginning was weak... and Kyle, you thought it was consistent, right? I guess we all disagree -- I think the album is incredibly strong at the start (except for "Back to the Shack," which I'm sick of by now) and pretty solid and consistent through the whole thing, until the end. I'm not here for the three part song conclusion. My Weezer fanatic fiance pointed out they're trying to do "Only In Dreams" over the course of three songs, and I get that. But, eh, those are all my least favorite songs. I just want the album to be over by then.
And it wouldn't be Weezer without crippling musical disappointment -- so what were your least favorite EWBAITE moments?!
KD: Indeed, I felt it was consistent! And I personally loved the three-part conclusion. I thought it gave the group a chance to show off their instrumental talents.
Anyway, my least favorite parts, you ask? That's a tough one. I think, because I have to answer your question, I'll go with "Lonely Girl." It just seemed like a much weaker song than the rest. But I still enjoyed it... just not as much as the others. I probably would have been okay if it were left off the record.
CC: I totally agree with your fiance on the three-part conclusion being "Only In Dreams." That's definitely what I was hearing, and it just made me want to rock out. I didn't hate anything on the album, but I can do without "I've Had It Up To Here" and "Back to the Shack."
CM: I was really happy to hear "Back to the Shack" when it came out, but since then I don't know. Maybe I've just grown sick of it or maybe the way too personal lyrics are starting to get to me. Either way, it's probably my least favorite actual song on the album. I also think it drags on for way too long. I get why it was chosen as the lead single, more for lyrical themes obviously. But there is much more interesting stuff on this album.
How much time have you guys spent with Weezer over the years? Do you really think they're back to their '90s glory days?
KD: I'm guessing I haven't spent nearly the amount of time with Rivers Cuomo and Co. over the years as you guys, so I cannot say for certain if they're back to their glory days. But I can say this is the first Weezer album I've listen to in a little while that could very well be revisited IN FULL on my Spotify.
CC: To be honest, I stopped listening closely to Weezer's new material after 2005. I don't think there is any way for the band to truly go back to their '90s glory days. It was a much simpler time then, and their songs sort of reflected that. I don't think the band was as self-aware in the '90s, because they didn't have a legacy to live up to yet. I do think, though, that this effort shows that Weezer still has it. It's one of the better releases I've seen this year as far as solid songwriting, and the extra dose of nostalgia doesn't hurt.
CM: Weezer's always been self aware, but they are HYPER aware here. As to answer my own question, I feel like Weezer is like 80 percent there when returning to the ~good ol' days~. I mean, we're just never going to get another "Blue Album" or Pinkerton, but most bands kind of decline in quality throughout the years. So, this is I feel like as good of a Weezer album as we're ever going to get. And after to disco embarrassment of Raditude and Hurley, I will take this all day, every day.
CC: Yeah by self-aware, I meant that they were more self-aware on a personal level back in the day, but not as much in relation to the perception of their legacy. But agreed, this album is probably as close to the early days as we can get.
KD: So, do you both think the album has matched up to the hype it's been getting?
CM: I follow, Caitlin!
And... hmm... hype. Well, if we're talking about hype from the band itself, once again we're like 80 percent there. I feel like the album is missing one major, insane standout track your "Buddy Holly" or your "Hash Pipe." The best songs are still catchy and fun, but they're missing a major element of shreditude (just made that word up, but it works). But, as a whole, it's totally solid.
If we're talking about hype from Weezer fans, who always approach a new album with a blend of optimism and dread, I think the masses will be more than satisfied.
CM: As a longtime Weezer fan, I'm really pleased with Everything Will Be Alright in the End. I appreciate the simple, clean and catchy approach to alternative rock. Even though Cuomo can overshare a bit in his lyrics, I think the musicianship is back, and I'm right there with 'em.
CC: Everything Will Be Alright in the End is as close to old Weezer as we're gunna get, and I'm happy it exists. Although there aren't any immediate standout hits, I think that might change the longer I sit with the album in years to come. Curious to see if they'll continue with their classic sound going forward or if this one was just for the fans, but I definitely wasn't disappointed.
KD: I think Everything Will Be Alright In The End is a great record from beginning to end. It has a lot of simplicity to it, which I think will work to their advantage. I suspect any (or most) Weezer fan will finish the record and immediately find themselves giving it another listen... because it's that damn good.