Weezer – Back to the Shack

The first two Weezer albums are two of the finest exponents of American pop/rock music ever produced thus far. They are impossible to turn off, and absolutely joy to listen to. I quite enjoy the green album, think Pork and Beans was a great song, but I haven’t really paid that much attention to their catalogue since the green album. Their music seemed to go off the boil for me a bit, and most of the songs didn’t quiet connect.

And, this seems to be a wider feeling – two perfect albums, and a few good songs since then but nothing really that mouth-wateirng. With the new single, Back to the Shack, Rivers Cuomo seems to acknowledge this.

Here, the focus is on big riffs, and bigger chorus – ones ordered off of a menu for a sing-a-long. And, really, there’s nothing bad about the song, but it does feel a bit as if they’re phoning it in. Perhaps this perception is not helped by the honest, if rather depressing lyrics.

No one comes off that well, here. Cuomo is saying that the audience were unwilling to go along with his escipades into other sorts of music, while he is criticising himself for not clinging to these unmoving bunch of luddities:

Sorry guys, I didn’t realise/that I needed you so much. I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks.

The chorus features the line “rockin’ out like it’s ’94”. While the second verse is more personal and more reflective, saying he’s grown up as a person (and also features what I take to be a The Who reference in a semi-bass fuzz break), it’s a sad proclamation. ‘What’s the point in trying to change, to progress’ the song seems to ask; why bother experimenting; sorry guys, we were wrong, no hard feelings, hey? – even if the song does sneakily feature an interesting solo and the chorus stole a synth sound from Gary Numan.

This is not a reclamation of the glory of Weezer, but rather a defeated “fuck it, we tried, but what’s the point in fighting conservativism?” I may not have paid much attention to the last few years of the Weezer catalogue, but I never thought an attempt to reclaim their youth was a good idea – is this a musical midlife crisis? The sonic equivalent of buying a motorbike?

Whenever this sort of thing happens (and it happens quite often) I find referring to Gorilla Biscuits’ ‘New Direction’:

hats off to bands that change.
Good luck, go your own way.
Why play for us, if your heart’s not in it?

And, while I am intentionally misinterpreting the lyrics of the song as a whole, I always found these lines was pertinent to both bands and the audience: why bother playing that stuff if you’re heart’s not in it, you’re just cashing in and that’s not cool. But, also it is always a shame about the conservatism of crowds – whatever fuckwits say, the black album is a superb piece of music; the two Michele Graves albums of the Misfits are great; and there’s nothing wrong with a band experimenting and doing weird things. What’s the fucking point in the 7th album of the same thing, over and over again?

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