Weezer’s “OK Human” is more than just OK

Photo courtesy of Hunter Kahn, Wikipedia

I’ve been listening to the new Weezer album on repeat. That is a sentence I wouldn’t imagine myself saying, but with the release of “OK Human,” here we are. With their fourteenth album, Weezer shows after a string of poorly received albums that they’ve still got it.

The band is wearing their influences on their sleeve with their well-arranged orchestra that backs each track being reminiscent of the Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds” and the album title being a nod to Radiohead’s 1997 album “OK Computer.”

“OK Human” opens with “All My Favorite Songs,” which was released prior as the only single of the album. The song sets the tone for what’s to follow, showcasing baroque pop arrangements that flow through each track. The song's uplifting melody is juxtaposed well against its angst-filled lyrics, reminiscent of Weezer’s 1996 album “Pinkerton.”

In the following song, “Aloo Gobi,'' frontman Rivers Cuomo finds himself unsatisfied with the predictability of his daily life. The song seamlessly transitions into “Grapes of Wrath.” Musically, it is a standout track that fuses their orchestration with choruses that carry the energy and sound of Weezer’s earlier more emo music.

Track four, “Numbers,” changes things up, substituting the sunny pop melodies for one of melancholic reflection. In the song, Cuomo discusses the harmful effects numbers can have on us in the form of being dissatisfied with things like our height or IQ.

The next track, “Playing My Piano,” presents to us Cuomo’s escape from the dull reality of pandemic life. Musically, it is not as interesting as other tracks, but the pre-chorus and chorus are phenomenal and carry the track.

From there the album brings you to “Mirror Image,” which comes out of the gate swinging. Opening with a chorus that pulls you right in; it’s a quick ride, yet it still delivers.

“Screens” is a song lamenting the death of the “real world” as he complains of people staring at – you guessed it – screens. It’s a message we’ve all heard before and the song doesn’t present it in a new or original way.

After that, we’re onto “Bird With A Broken Wing.” The song is a slow burner but it’s worth it when you get to that beautiful pre-chorus which leads into an even prettier chorus built around another elegant string arrangement. The song uses a bird as a metaphor for living to comment on how his life has changed.

Track nine, “Dead Roses,” is the darkest and best song of the album. It's a powerful track with understated instrumentation and a sweeping emotional climax in the chorus. The lyrics are incredible and have an Edgar Allen Poe feel to them.

A 23 second instrumental, “Everything Happens For a Reason,” is a soft ambient track that just, seems to halt the momentum of the album. Though it does smoothly transition into the next track, “Here Comes the Rain.” A poppy track fueled by a jaunty piano melody that espouses the belief that things will get better, a message we should all keep in mind this year.

“OK Human” closes with “La Brea Tar Pits.” Similar thematically to other songs on the album, it finds Cuomo thinking about his life now and the art he’s creating. The final chorus of the song has Cuomo singing “I'm sinking, could you give me a lift? / Wanna make an escape but don't know where to begin,” an impactful final lyric for an album full of personal introspection.

4/5 stars

 

bhopper@ramapo.edu