Metal rock with little might
Postponed by a global pandemic, Weezer’s latest endeavor, Van Weezer, is infused with nostalgia and is an illusion of frontman Rivers Cuomo’s inner child. Coupled with the band’s Hella Mega arena tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy, this album shines a light on sensory throwbacks and attempts to tribute ’80s hair metal. Weezer in the past has been inconsistent, not in a derogatory way but more so that they lack conformity in their musical transitions. But this album is pure, as were the infamous Weezer and Weezer (Green Album).
“I Need Some of That” is a keystone track of this nostalgia, with lyrics like “Listening to Aerosmith, and later I’ll call my mom.” Diving back into his childhood, Cuomo surfaces the sentimental memories of his childhood into the music—a type of introspection present in their previous albums. Though as a tribute to ’80s metal, songs lack the strength to make the overdriven guitar hit like metal did. “Beginning of the End” is an archetype of this with a soft opening and hammering guitar, but Cuomo’s almost boyish voice takes away from the grit of it. Though, his naïve vocals do ring true for the nostalgic feeling he strived for.
The track “The End of the Game” is a bit of old and new, starting with a slamming Eddie Van Halen-like riff and hammering with the classic Weezer-style heavy chords and Cuomo shouting vocals. This song relishes in the pleasures of their past, fitting right in with past hits from the band. It takes metal and adds Cuomo’s light voice for a stylized version of newfound metal. But it keeps Weezer’s known style, also found in “All the Good Ones,” with a bit more harmonizing.
“Blue Dream” has an identical riff to Ozzy Osbourne’s infamous “Crazy Train,” as it walks a thin line that questions the band’s originality. While it might pay tribute to metal, all people wait for is Ozzy to scream “all aboard.” Even the album name is a tribute, as Van Weezer promises Van Halen, but the volume of the album barely exceeds Bryan Adams.
Over 20 years since their debut album Weezer, the band has nostalgia of their own, as millennials and Gen Z alike still blast “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So” like it’s the mid-90s. Their tribute to themselves might lie within the track “Sheila Can Do It,” with the classic girl-in-awe track making entire tracks about the actions of one girl. Walking the same line is “Precious Metal Girl,” a heartfelt love song with modernity but kept simple by vocals and acoustic guitar.
Van Weezer generously adds some much-needed sensory throwback to this century. The tracks are vivid and full of life and remain nostalgic to Weezer as a band but struggle in their tribute to hair metal heroes. This album indulges in the early style of Weezer but shows the band still enjoys being a part of Weezer themselves.