Ok Human is probably the unexpected album of a band that we no longer present and of which we thought we had (still) seen everything. Not only is it deeply human and well written, but on top of that it is a very pleasant musical experience, adorned with catchy melodies and charming orchestration.
First of all, I would just like to congratulate Weezer for being so popular and so well attended almost 30 years after their foundation. It's just a few things that impress me, when nowadays everything goes so fast. To tell you the truth, it's been years since I half gave up on their music for the album Red in 2008, because I felt like I'd done what I expected of them. But even though there are more clearly forgettable, even bad albums that have come out since then, Weezer have always kept their own personal visions, alternating between themes and concepts, no matter the critics and generation changes. They even knew how to surprise us with 2 good albums in 2014 with Everything Will Be Alright in the End and of course White in 2016. There's only two things to remember, Weezer is tireless and uncontrollable, and that's what allows them to hold this impressive popularity. They are capable of the best and the worst. This ability to bounce back after criticism and get back to work as quickly as possible without looking back, shows just how much passion Weezer exudes. It's as fascinating as it is disconcerting, especially when you're getting older. And to think that the guys still released one of their worst albums (Black album) in March 2019, a failed electropop experience, but anyway, in November of the same year the Los Angeles-based band took on a new challenge with a new Van Weezer album just like that on a whim. If it wasn't for Covid, the album would have already been released last year and there might already be 4 other albums in preparation. Yes I exaggerate, but that's the definition of passion. To be completely honest, I have to admit that while I'm not excited about listening to Van Weezer based on the promotional singles, I was very questioning about Ok Human from the moment I heard the news and that damn superbly orchestrated pop single has been running through my head ever since, like some kind of positive curse. Can't wait to see if Weezer finally has a solid and fun album to listen to. If Van Weezer hasn't been released yet, it's probably because Weezer wants to make it a live tour album, whereas Ok Human is an album mainly conceived and finalized under the constraints and themes of the current pandemic.
In my opinion Weezer is reaching the end of their limits when they launch into their energetic and comfortable Power Pop that we are too used to, but that doesn't mean it's all over, you never know with Weezer. Thinking of an album as a different concept from what we're tired of, it can only be charming. If Weezer was inspired by Pet Sounds to create a "surprise" album, then that's a great starting point, not to mention a nod to one of the most critically acclaimed albums Ok Computer has ever released. Indeed, I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised, and it was not a mistake, Ok Human is a great experience of this beginning of the year. It's a bit early for credits, but Ok Human seems to be more of a "solo album" by Rivers Cuomo, rather than a full-fledged Weezer work. While the occasion did not allow it easily, Weezer surrounds himself with a 38-piece orchestra, abandoning electric guitars for a totally different recording equipment and techniques. With a more melodic and melancholic Pop Rock, Cuomo sought to impose a Chamber Pop/Baroque Pop aesthetic, a first in their history and a success in addition to the fact that the album takes advantage of its short format, reduced to 30 minutes, which leaves little room for flaws or mistakes. First of all, the album takes advantage of its short format, reduced to 30 minutes, which leaves little room for flaws or mistakes. In Ok Human, Weezer knew how to best animate this half-hour by proposing a suite of 12 different and pleasant songs, without ever repeating itself too much. On Ok Human, Rivers Cuomo approaches a more serious and philosophical writing than usual. Obviously it is impossible not to make the link with the current pandemic that has clearly amplified this phenomenon, but Cuomo underlines several times the social evolution that leads humans towards loneliness and dependency. This reasoning, which seems to us quite implacable when we listen to him, may be a kind of common thought that will allow us, perhaps after the pandemic, to change and/or totally review our habits, to erase some of them (social networks, addiction etc...). In spite of the melancholic and sad side that emerges at first glance, the messages and reflections of Ok Human also know how to be optimistic and leave hope. In his approach, Rivers Cuomo, now over 50 years old, often acts like an adult who is not ashamed of anything and is not afraid to have fun. However, his approach on Ok Human is very interesting, as he tries to get out of his character and his age to put himself in the place of today's youth. It's impossible not to make the link between Ok Human and Ok Computer, which is found both in the common societal and human themes, even if the time and the context is so different necessarily.
Musically Ok Human is serious, but it never falls into the trap of being boring. It's not a masterpiece, but it's nice to hear Weezer content that doesn't sound like a generic or failed complement. On the one hand, Weezer called on producer Jake Sinclair, who had also produced the album White, for the second time, as a sign that Weezer is not mistaken. The construction of the album and this choice to opt for rather short songs allowed the album to have a tempting progression, where one limits oneself to the strictly necessary without neglecting any moment of it. The work of the transitions are also remarkable, the album never loses in intensity, it evolves like a kind of mini symphonic medley filled with catchy melody. Sometimes we have the impression that it's even too perfect, we'll regret having some small irregularities or some small follies at times. The arrangements and orchestration are generally successful and lively, although at times they seem a bit too bloated and ambitious. Again, it is impossible not to make a mini connection with Pet Sounds, from which he is musically inspired, both in the approach to the concept, an album thought up by a studio nerd and band leader. By the fact also that the work is based a lot on the arrangements, the orchestration, an album thought as a unit. Of course, the level is not at all comparable, but still Ok Human has some singular things. Let's hope that the immediate effect and easy access of the content will hold over time.