Big Weezer Moments.
At this point, writing at length about a Weezer project is, in some form, seen as a joke. The idea of discussing Weezer at length, discerning what makes them tick and talk about the quality of their releases has almost turned into one big music community meme, and honestly I can see why! Weezer have had one of the most interesting yet disheartening careers in mainstream rock, going from indie darlings that managed to bust through into the mainstream with critically acclaimed albums like ‘The Blue Album’ and ‘Pinkerton’ to the Birdemic: Shock and Terror of Arena Rock that have made such terrible pieces of auditory shit like ‘Raditude’ and ‘Make Believe’. It's so easy to make fun of modern day Weezer because it feels like the band just don't care about what it is that they do, whether it's on a painfully obnoxious level like obnoxious pop-headache like 'Make Believe' or a frustrating snoozefest on 'Pacific Daydream' or whether it's a hilarious shitshow for all to see like the genuinely rancid 'Ratitude' or the confused mixed bag of ‘The Red Album’. Hell, Weezer's last two records have easily felt like the most lazy, boring and predictably bad releases they have ever made, despite making an entire album of apologies a couple of years prior with 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End', declaring that they would be putting more effort into the music that they make! Of course we treat Weezer as a joke; they treat themselves like a joke!
But, every so often there is a glimmer of hope for the band. Every so often, Weezer put out a single or an album that stops fans in their tracks and makes people go, “Hey, maybe Weezer can pull through in the modern day and deliver something great!. Hell, we've had albums like 'The White Album' and 'EWBAITE' as of recent, so it's not out of line to think that maybe, just maybe, Weezer would be able to provide us with something substantial!”
And that was exactly the feeling that people got when this album got announced. Not only was OK Human supposed to be this big, lush orchestrally-led triumph of a record that would prove Weezer was finally back, but it was also a surprise release, giving fans the album only a week before it's initial release in January of 2021, giving them no waiting period to have any doubts about the project. This wasn’t a cop out release like the god awful cover album ‘The Teal Album’ was, this was a proper release with new, original arrangements and an interesting, eye-catching cover. Excitement was in the room, people were shaking in their boots, and the world watched in eager anticipation as Weezer provided a brand new record into the world!
...And then it was really mediocre and boring. So….hot take?
Look, I want to like this album. I really do! This is very clearly an album that Weezer wanted to make rather than feeling like they had to make it, and I don’t want to come off like I am knocking this album down just because it’s a Weezer release. Hell, the fact that it is coming from Weezer gives me at least some hope that they are on the right path to releasing something really great! But...look, i’m sorry, this thing is a snoozefest for me.
Listening to the lead single and opener off of this record, 'All My Favorite Songs', gives you exactly the picture that Weezer is painting, and it’s painfully by the numbers. With its mid-tempo groove, sweeping orchestral build and mediocre lyricism, this song just sounds like nothing. The song technically doesn’t sound awful at any points; the mellotron in the intro is peppy and cute, the stringed composition doesn't sound too bad, and Rivers Cuomo actually sounds like he’s having fun in the studio. But this song, and in turn this album, just really feels like extremely forgettable Pop Rock, with it’s mid-tempo sluggish tempo, serviceable piano melodies and painfully unmemorable melodies. I’ve heard a million Weezer songs like this, and while the orchestration does add a certain level of sweetness to the overall project, it still doesn’t do much to make this track stand out.
As the album continues, the same problems plague nearly every single track here. It’s not that the album is inherently terrible, it's just that (aside from the stringed arrangements) there really isn’t anything all that special about this album that makes me want to return to it over other Weezer albums. Sure, ‘Ok Human’ has some sweet hooks here and there, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome very much and ‘sweet innocent piano rock’ is a way better look on Weezer than the pop bitterness of an album like ‘The Black Album’, but there is so much material here that just barely exists. After listening to this album at least 4 times (New Zealand Time Zones Bitch), and you could put a gun to my head and yell at me to name how a track goes and I still wouldn’t be able to tell you what in god's name ‘Aloo Gobi’, ‘La Brea Tar Pits‘ or even some of the better tracks on here like ‘Numbers’ sound like sonically.
Lyrically, this album is also kind of stale. Not bad mind you, just stale. It’s clear that ‘OK Human’ was Weezer's quarantine catharsis, as evident by the fact that ‘Playing My Piano’ has some pretty blatant references to Zoom interviews and living in quarantine, and the anxiety of living within Quarantine shines through this album pretty clearly. Hell, this is one of the most anxious Weezer albums in a good long while, for better and for worse. On the positive side, this is one of the most honest albums we've gotten from Rivers since maybe 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End' on The Red Album, like the album is written from the perspective of an alien who crash-lands on Earth trying to understand what exactly 'humanity' is supposed to feel like. Songs like ‘Dead Roses’ and ‘Bird With A Broken Wing’ have a real poetic humanity to them, and feel genuinely quite beautiful to listen to at times.
But...at the same time...there is a lot of goofy shit on this album lyrically.
Now before you go ‘Wait...goofy shit?! On a Weezer album?! Say it ain’t SO!’, I understand that this band really isn’t the best at writing lyrics. Hell, even on albums that have been praised for their lyrics, they still aren’t amazing (You cannot tell me that El Sorcho isn’t hilarious to listen to when Rivers emotionally yelps about wanting to take a half-Japanese women to a Green Day concert) so of course Weezer having goofed up lyrics is expected. But just because it's expected doesn’t mean that I like it. For instance, there is this weird feeling of technophobia on this record, with songs like ‘Screens’ and ‘Numbers’ having this strange message of ‘tEcHnoLoGy bAd, rAh!’, with ‘Screens’ in specific basically describing Rivers' daughter watching ‘memes’ and listening to ‘BLACKPINK’, perfectly exuding confused Dad energy. And another track ‘Grapes of Wrath’ is basically just an Audible commercial, with Rivers singing about how many audiobooks he listens to while going out, which is a strange moment on the album that feels extremely out of place with the rest of the neurotic and nervous themes of the record. Did we REALLY need a song about Rivers Cuomo listening to an audiobook of 1984? And do we really need the nauseating ‘feel good’ track ‘Here Comes The Rain’, a song so filled with cheese that it turns my stomach inside out?
However, I must give credit where credit is due. There were some tracks here that I genuinely did like, like the honestly pretty beautiful ‘Numbers’ (even if some of the lyrics are really silly), the honestly really lovely ‘Playing My Piano’ (despite how basic it comes off) or the sweeping track ‘Bird with a Broken Wing’. There are good moments here, hence why i’m leaning more on a 6 then I normally would with an album this dull. And, even if the use of the strings on ‘OK Human’ do come off as extremely gimmicky across the course of this album, they are well composed and performed.
But...look, while I probably won't be dreading coming back to this album like I am an album like ‘Pacific Daydream’, I really have no desire to listen to this album again outside of a couple of good tracks. There is some gold here, there is no denying that, but it’s just kind of buried in this cave of half-baked ideas, lack of interest and just general filler-esq haziness that makes this album not a unified return to form like most people were hoping, but a sad little blip in Weezer's career. It’s Weezer making some pretty dull tracks with an orchestra, and all the bells and whistles they shove onto this thing doesn’t change one little fact:
The music on here is just kind of boring, at least to me. If you like this, then more power to ya! But for me, this just is really boring.
Favorite Jams: Bird With a Broken Wing, Numbers, Playing My Piano
Lest Favorite: Everything Happens For A Reason (great pointless interlude guys)