Twenty years have elapsed since the release of the classic “Pinkerton,” the album that contributed to Weezer’s early success, making it all the more apt that on their latest album, “Weezer (The White Album),” the alternative rockers harken back to their formative years.
The difference here is that maturity has brought punchier harmonies and more sophisticated lyrics to Weezer’s music that don’t quite have that intangible, amateurish charm of their earliest work, but still function nonetheless. It’s an accomplished album packed with nostalgia, from an era when alternative rock was resonating in a big way.
A seamless fusion of hooking Beach Boys melodies and lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s pining for California reintroduce two influential periods of music to a new generation of listeners. At this point in Weezer’s career, it seems appropriate for the group to use their most recent album as an opportunity to not only look back and remind people why their sudden propulsion to success was emblematic of the time, but also to give a nod to fans who have supported them since the beginning.
The singles off the album that have been slowly let out since October include “Thank God for Girls,” “Do You Wanna Get High?,” “King of the World,” “L.A. Girlz” and, most recently, “California Kids.” While these songs are the most accessible, listeners willing to delve deeper will dust off a sound that has been concealed from Weezer’s oeuvre for 15 years.
The question, however, becomes whether or not that sound should have been removed from the time capsule to begin with. Weezer has undoubtedly grown since “Pinkerton,” an album that Cuomo wholeheartedly disowned, but the wounds of that time seem to have healed, and what was once a band that rejected sentimentality has now embraced it, recorded it and used it as a foundation for this album.
Whenever something like a recreation of cherished memories is unearthed, there is an immediate danger, but the risk pays off here and Weezer excels at transporting listeners to a very specific time and place.
A yearning for summers of days past is hard to resist, but that doesn’t come without a nagging feeling that the world today can no longer sustain music like this in a serious, thoughtful way.
The brainy nerds of the alternative scene still retain the musical quality of their past selves while invoking a sort of paternal remembrance for a time when affixed training wheels didn’t stop them from speeding down the street with reckless abandonment.