“Back To The Shack,” the lead single off of Weezer’s new album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, begins with the lines “Sorry guys I didn't realize that I needed you so much / I thought I'd get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks.” With those two lines, Weezer announces their long-awaited return to rock. The shiny, emotionless radio-pop of 2009’s much-maligned Ratitude and the scattershot effort of 2010’s Hurley are gone. With the help of familiar producer Ric Ocasek, Rivers Cuomo & Co. return with their best album in 18 years.
While marketed as a return to the glory days of their eponymous debut (henceforth known as Blue) and follow-up album Pinkerton, Everything Will Be Alright In The End isn’t quite that; it takes those alt-rock roots and expands on them, creating an album that at times feels simultaneously like a hybrid of their earlier works yet also distinctively new and different. Songs like “Lonely Girl” sound like a combination of Blue and Green (the band’s second eponymous album), while “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” with its syncopation and falsetto, sounds like something entirely unique to Weezer’s repertoire.
Regardless of whether they feel familiar or new, all of the songs make worthy additions to Weezer’s catalogue. For the first time since Pinkerton, the songs revolve around a concept (or concepts, in this case). The songs are divided into three categories: Bella Donna, the Panopticon and Patriarchy.
Bella Donna contains the classic girl songs that are common throughout Weezer’s history. The infectious “Ain’t Got Nobody” and the aforementioned “Lonely Girl” discuss the search for companionship; the part acoustic, part whistling “Da Vinci,” with lyrics such as “Even Da Vinci couldn't paint you / And Stephen Hawking can't explain you / Rosetta Stone could not translate you / I'm at a loss for words,” is a pure love song; while “Cleopatra” and “Go Away,” the latter a duet with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and one of my favorite songs on the album, show the perils of when that love sours.
The Panopticon, containing “Back To The Shack” and “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” deals with Cuomo’s relationship with the core Weezer fans and casual music listeners. While “Back To The Shack” is seemingly an apology to fans for the missteps of the past few years, “I’ve Had It Up To Here” directs Cuomo’s frustration at the record labels and the masses. Lyrically the strongest on the album, Cuomo denounces the influence that the record labels and casual listeners once had on his work “Don't wanna compromise my art for universal appeal / Don't wanna be mass consumed / I'm not a Happy Meal.” Between the lyrics, the syncopation of the verses, the falsetto and the Queen-like bridge and solo, “I’ve Had It Up To Here” is a standout on an album filled with them.
The third and final category, the Patriarchy, contains songs pertaining to fatherhood. “Eulogy for a Rock Band” looks at the band’s relationship with their predecessors (musical fathers), but with lyrics such as “Goodbye heroes / You had a good run / Fifteen years of / Ruling the planet / But now your light's fading,” it’s hard not to wonder if the song isn’t a little introspective. I guarantee “The British Are Coming,” an extended metaphor about rejecting authority, will be the most hard-rocking song you’ll ever hear about the Revolutionary War, and the song “Foolish Father,” perhaps the most emotionally powerful song on the album, pleads a daughter to forgive the mistakes of her father and delves into Cuomo’s relationship with his own father.
The album closes with a mostly instrumental, three song suite dubbed “The Futurescope Trilogy,” the best album closer since Blue’s “Only In Dreams.” The trilogy contains some of the most impressive guitar work in Weezer’s 20 year history, and at one point consists of all four band members playing guitar simultaneously. A triumphant showcase of Pat Wilson’s drumming, Scott Shriner’s bass, and the guitars of Cuomo and Brian Bell, the trilogy is a fitting end to the album.
Ultimately, what makes Everything Will Be Alright In The End the best Weezer album of the past 18 years is the balance it strikes between familiarity and uniqueness. Weezer has returned to the roots of what made them so successful, but aren’t restrained by them. The lyrics can be too simple or cheeky at times, but dwelling on that misses the point of Weezer. Cuomo’s uncanny ability to create catchy, anthemic hooks and combine them with sonically diverse song structures makes the album incredibly fun and enjoyable. After surviving the highs and lows of the last 15 years, Weezer has indeed proven everything is alright in the end.