REVIEW: Weezer (Teal Album) // Weezer
Weezer decided to bless us all with the surprise release of their latest self titled album, The Teal Album. It’s a cover album, featuring some of the most popular songs from the 20th century. This record felt even more sudden considering the California alt-rock band was set to release the Black Album later this year.
Last summer, Weezer put out their own version of “Africa” by Toto thanks to a persistent 14-year-old fan who made a Twitter account dedicated to the band covering the 80’s hit turned modern day internet joke. The track itself was refreshing and fun, as was music video they also released featuring Weird Al Yankovic. Then, it turned into the opening track on an album full of other smash hits.
Every song sounds exactly like its original when it starts. You start to believe that you’re actually listening to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics, until you hear the remarkable voice of one Rivers Cuomo. Weezer doesn’t reveal themselves until they’re certain they have your attention. Once you’re too invested in the song, then you’ll hear the heavy guitar and pounding drums that we’ve come to expect from the alt-rock band.
The thing that’s the most troubling about this mediocre album is that a few of the covers are absolutely phenomenal. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is perfect. The combination of the punchy 80’s synth pop with the typical Weezer staticky guitar riffs and Cuomo’s high notes and vocal harmonies all fit together in unity.
Their cover of the classic 1967 hit “Happy Together” by The Turtles is a nearly flawless fusion of classic and modern rock. They couldn’t have done a better job with the gradual build-up to the first chorus before you’re hit with the banging drums and booming vocals. Surprisingly, their daring cover of Black Sabbath’s heavy metal anthem “Paranoid” was incredibly well done and executed. They made the right move putting their guitarist Brian Bell on vocals because Cuomo’s higher voice would have killed the track. The instrumentals are somehow so similar to the original but still manage to feel unique to Weezer’s style.
And yet, the rest of the tracks are just, for a lack of a better term, so boring.
Take their version of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” It’s not bad! But it’s so sonically close to the original, it almost makes you wonder why they even bothered doing it. The same goes for “Billie Jean.” The whole song just feels like Cuomo doing a Michael Jackson impression. Nothing about it feels original to Weezer’s style. If any band is going to do a cover (let alone a whole album!) of any classic hit, they should be working to prove to their audience that their take on it is just as, if not more, compelling than the original. The goal shouldn’t be to produce absolute carbon copies because at that point, what’s the point? Why not just listen to the original instead?
“Mr. Blue Sky” is another example of a song that had a lot of potential but ultimately leaves you feeling unsatisfied. The only time it really strays away from its parent track is when the long instrumental section is almost entirely spearheaded by a chunk guitar solo, that just feels imbalanced and messy. It’s alright, but just so underwhelming. Then, there were some outright terrible songs. Songs like “Stand By Me” and “No Scrubs” shouldn’t have even been considered for this album.
When an alt-rock band decides to take on a classic 90’s R&B hit like TLC’s “No Scrubs”, they’re just asking for trouble. The thing that makes “No Scrubs” and most other tracks like it so popular is the fact that they can take a song that is, essentially, the same lyrics and rhythms over and over again while still making it creative and enjoyable. You don’t even notice when you’re listening that it’s so repetitive because you’re too busy enjoying yourself, belting out “I don't want no scrub/A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me.”
But when Weezer decided to take this iconic track and make it different, it took away any sense of amusement or fun. Between Cuomo’s whiny vocals, heavy instrumentals and the weird inclusion of the violins from the original, this song just does not work in any capacity. They turned a 90’s bop into a whiny alt-rock ballad that no one wanted to hear.
“Stand By Me” is a classic love ballad that is, essentially, timeless and very hard to adapt to modern day music. When Weezer decided to translate the gorgeous string instrumentals into piercing electric guitar notes, while still strangely keeping some of the strings in the background, they ruined any chance of listeners feeling the same love and warmth they felt listening to the original.
Their version of “Take on Me” will make you want to shut the song off before the vocals can even start. By attempting to modernize a song that is basically the overture to the entire synth-pop movement, you take away everything that made it so gratifying. If you can’t make the techno instrumentals work in your cover, you shouldn’t even be bothering to recreate it.
I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album that had me walking away with so many questions. The biggest one being: why? This album is so confusing, it will literally leave you questioning its existence. One of the most glaring issues with this record is that it doesn’t even feel like a Weezer album. Even the songs that had very Weezer-esque elements didn’t feel like anything else they’ve produced. If they had really made every song sound like their own specific style (which is possible to do while still respecting the original song), this album would have been vastly more interesting. But almost every track sounds like it’s parent song, with some Rivers Cuomo vocals and a few weighty guitar riffs thrown in just to make it a little different.
It’s not bad, it’s not great, it’s just a little disappointing.
Best Tracks: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “Paranoid”, “Happy Together”
Worst Tracks: “Take on Me”, “Stand By Me”, “No Scrubs”
- Bridget McGuigan