When Weezer dropped “Weezer” (2016), its fourth eponymous record known by most fans as the “White Album,” Rivers Cuomo and his crew seemed to have finally figured it out again. After an ugly 2000s for the band, it seemed as though the awkward but lovable rockers had found their formula on the Californian summertime record, full of catchy hits like “Do You Wanna Get High” and “King of the World.” With a sound that blends the older style of their classic albums “Weezer” (1994, “Blue Album”) and “Pinkerton” (1996) with an upbeat beach aesthetic, Weezer had finally put out another record that’s great front to back.
Weezer attempts to expand upon this sound in its newest project, “Pacific Daydream” (2017), which maintains the upbeat and happy aesthetic by polishing it with tight production. Given the success of this sound last year, it has to be even better now, right?
Wrong. Somehow the band took everything that made the “White Album” fun and exciting and threw it out the window during the recording process for the album. They rewrote their formula and created an album that sounds like Weezer’s version of Mad Libs. Everything is there: catchy tunes, edgy lyrics, Cuomo’s unique voice. The only thing that might be construed as inherently bad is the overproduction and badly placed autotune that producer Butch Walker brings to the table. The problem is that instead of these elements blending together, they feel forcibly glued to each other, creating a sound that feels too lifeless to evoke any reasonable emotional response.
All of the power in power-pop is gone in this record. The energy that drives 2016’s “Weezer” is completely absent in “Pacific Daydream.” Only in a few fleeting moments does this record ever shine, like in the catchy opening track, “Mexican Fender” and the bubbly closer, “Any Friend of Diane’s.” All of the tracks, while not painful to listen to, just lack the substance that makes a good Weezer album. Despite the record’s short tracklist and 34-minute runtime, it drags on through most the second half with almost nothing of note.
Because this is Weezer, this is a disappointing but expected release. The band has released 11 studio albums now, and might be a legitimate contender for the most inconsistent band ever. For a band that has released some of the greatest alternative rock tunes in history, it is exceptionally good at also releasing music that is nothing but bland. This effort is a bad zag to the zig that was the “White Album,” and another notch in the not good column of its discography.
Though, to be fair to the band, there is one praise that can’t be taken away in this album: The choruses are menacingly catchy. As Cuomo approaches 50 years of age, he’s definitely nailed down how to write a tune that is easy to sing along to. The sad fact is that the album is too forgettable as a whole for these choruses to last very long in the minds of Weezer fans, old and new.
On the bright side, Cuomo has confirmed that the “Black Album” is on the way and should be released in 2018. The “Black Album” was originally intended to juxtapose the “White Album” with a darker tone and was supposed to be released right after the 2016 project. The decision to interject “Pacific Daydream” (2017) in the middle of the two is probably the best indicator of how much of a throwaway Weezer album this really is.
While it’s strange to simply ignore a project from the band and hope for better in the future, that’s exactly what has to happen here. “Pacific Daydream” is extremely technically sound, has its catchy moments but overall is unmemorable, similar to many of their failed 2000s projects (looking at you, “Raditude”). In the meantime, fans can at least look forward to next year’s summer tour with Pixies that comes to Mansfield, Mass. on July 17.
In a brief summation, Weezer’s effort here was not bad, but definitely not good either. There isn’t much lasting appeal within any of these tracks, and the album will probably leave many fans hoping that the “Black Album” can grab their interest. It would be fair to say that despite some of the technical developments of the album, it’s probably the safest Weezer record yet. But in this case, safe means boring.