Weezer defies all criticism. For years, critics have griped over Weezer’s songwriting as generic and clinical. Don’t believe me? Look at these two Pitchfork quotes from two different album reviews from two entirely different writers:
“This is still a Mk. III Weezer album where songs are constructed more like sitcoms: each has a single premise based on a rigid structure and a comforting predictability, and each can be experienced in virtually any order,” – Pitchfork’s “Hurley” review and a pompous way of saying the album could be worse.
“On ‘Make Believe,’ [Cuomos] personality has vanished beneath layers of self-imposed universality, writing non-specific power ballads and whoah-oh-ohing a whole lot in lieu of coming up with coherent or interesting thoughts.” – Pitchfork’s “Make Believe” review which is clearly more aggressive.
These aren’t just cherry-picked album reviews from Weezer’s arguably worst albums: I just simply am not a gutsy-enough critic to turn this review into a research paper on why critics hate much of Weezer’s discography. I’d advise you to check Metacritic to get an idea of their critical reception yourself and maybe you’ll see why their Metascore is below average. Take that average with a grain of salt as access journalism is often responsible for many overly-positive reviews (see Wall Street Journal’s “What Happened to the Negative Review?”).
Weezer just doesn’t seem to learn from their mistakes or at least can’t focus enough on the issue at hand to solve it. In a sense, they defy all criticism as they continue to truck along with a cult following and some mainstream appeal, albeit losing fans in the process of appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Now for the album at hand, “Pacific Daydream,” Weezer’s 11th studio album following their best-received record the “White Album” since 2002. This album’s conundrum is it really doesn’t know what it’s focus is other than being different. Musically, the album is stretched across several genres whether it’s electronica like on “Feels Like Summer,” power-pop like on “Get Right,” or synth-pop like on “Happy Hour,” the record gets around a lot. The problem is a majority of the songs are just mediocre. It’s like the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” There’s a lot of okay songs on this record but little makes me want to play anything on repeat or give me much to talk about.
Lyrically, “Pacific Daydream” is an introspective record all about frontman, Rivers Cuomo, personal rediscovery. This introspectiveness was something I felt was lacking in “White Album” and was promised in the forthcoming “Black Album” which is still to come apparently. I admire Cuomo’s authenticity in his songwriting, after all, it was that kind of vulnerability that made “Pinkerton” a platinum album. There are also many great hooks on this record like “Feels Like Summer,” “Weekend Woman,” and “Get Right.”
The problem with “Pacific Daydream” goes back to what critics have been saying since 2005, Cuomo’s songwriting is just too formulaic or simply too non-specific. “Beach Boys” is a good example of using ambiguous, seemingly random lyrics in its first couple verses and the unmoving chorus where Cuomo’s professing his love for The Beach Boys doesn’t help.
The formulaic style may not directly stem from Cuomo himself but rather his producers or any possible corporate pressures. Cuomo annotated “Feel Like Summer” on Genius and revealed his struggles with “powers that be” over preventing a auto-tune effect on the first line to the chorus. It makes me wonder if there were other places that outside influences muddied up the music’s intended sound, which may also explain the overly primped and clean production on this record.
Overall, “Pacific Daydream” feels as much like a step backward as it does not moving at all. Weezer wants to maintain a personal authenticity and originality but continues to record generic material. I believe most fans aren’t looking for another Pinkerton or Blue album but I do think we’re all in need of at least Green or White album. Overall, I give Pacific Daydream a 4.3/10.
|What I’m looking for.||Score (0-10)||Examples of Scoring|
|Innovation||2||10- Creates entire genre.
8- Creates a new niche or sub-genre
6-pushes current genres limits
4- pushes their own limits
|Uniqueness (of either artist or album)||4||10-Never before seen (has influences still)
8-More than 3 unique qualities including sound, person, story, etc.
6- 2 unique qualities
4-1 unique qualities
2-Lowest possible score because everyone is unique :^)
|Artist’s technical ability||8|
|Production||5||10- Perfect Balance
5- Over-produced more than not (or even under produced)
0- Sounds horrible
|Theme||3||10-powerful theme throughout
5-theme but kinda sucks
0-no theme or organization
|Length/Flow of Album||3||10-Songs reinforce each other, album isn’t hard to listen to, and the transitions are smooth/appropriate
5- 2 of those things
0-none of these things
|Longevity||3||How relevant will it be in 5, 10, 25 years.|
|Personal Enjoyment||4||10-peak enjoyment
1-Couldn’t hate album more