By Kaleb Helms
Album title: Weezer (Black Album)
Release date: March 1, 2019
Label: Atlantic Records
Weezer was formed in 1992 in Los Angeles, California, and the band currently consists of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals and lead guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (rhythm guitar and keyboard) and Scott Shriner (bass). Weezer has always been a versatile band that experiments with different topics and sounds from album to album. Over the almost three decades, Weezer has transitioned from a emo-alternative rock band to the pop rock sound that is shown in Weezer (Black Album).
Weezer’s sixth self-titled and thirteenth studio album Weezer (Black Album) was released on March 1, 2019 via Atlantic Records. The black album has been hinted and teased at since early 2016 when frontman and lead singer Rivers Cuomo discussed a possible counter to their newly released Weezer (White Album). The band has never worked with producer Dave Sitek before but Sitek has a tons of experience in many genres ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Jay-Z.
The album has been in writing and production since at least 2016 and it shows in the quality of production value as this album provides a fun listen. Weezer continues to create beautiful rhythms accompanied by River’s signature vocals which bring the songs to a new level of catchy and his writing provides depth to the lyrics. This album shows Rivers Cuomo’s dark side as many of the songs use expletives and discuss more mature topics than their previous albums. Weezer (Black Album) while still maintaining River’s nerd rock style incorporates elements of electropop with Weezer’s own signature sound.
Weezer starts off the album with “Can’t Knock the Hustle” that is a hard hitting upbeat first song full off funky bass riffs and a driving drumline. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album as most of the songs follow its upbeat in your face energy. “Can’t Knock the Hustle” discusses the individuals that criticize him in his pursuit of success with lyrics such as “I’m an ugly m**********r but I work hella harder and you can write a blog about it”.
The next track “Zombie B*******” which contains an upbeat keyboard progression and drum line and sends an unapologetic message to the fans about the change in sound with the new album. This song is unforgiving to fans who criticize how their sound has evolved with maturity. This song also contains a callback to the band’s second album in the lyrics “If I die, it means that I lived my life/And that’s much better than hidin’ in a hole” which is a reference to River’s reaction to the badly reviewed Pinkerton.
Rivers shut himself out from the world for months before seeking help with his depression. Rivers said that the black album would be the dark side of Weezer and it is proving to be just that in the way he discusses the things people criticize most of him and the band. The entire album is a plea by the band to move on from not only their expectations for sound but also to move past the dark past of Weezer and onto better things.
Another interesting stand out song to me was “Byzantine” which Rivers claims in an interview with entertainment weekly that Laura Grace from Against Me! “did most of the lyrics, and she sent them to me as text messages”. This song is an upbeat song about love and how it can be love is “only complicated if you want it to be” and provides an interesting view on love.
The recently released Weezer (Black Album) is a statement from the band saying that they understand what the fans expect but that is not who Weezer is anymore. The band has matured since the dark days of Pinkerton and it’s backlash, and I believe that is what the black album is intended to show.
Listen to Weezer (Black Album):