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Every now and then, an album comes along by complete surprise. You stare at it intensely on your Spotify library, wondering why it’s there, what purpose it serves, and forming opinions on it before you’ve even hit play. “Is that what they’re doing now?” you ask yourself, questioning their entire catalogue of songs, wondering whether they now have truly hit the "scraping the barrel" section of their career.
Rightly or wrongly (you’ll know the answer if you read the subtitle), these were the exact thoughts that went through my head when I saw Weezer’s latest self-titled effort, Weezer (Teal Album), an expansion on May 2018’s popular cover of Toto’s "Africa." An album full of covers usually evokes the same reaction from me as seeing somebody eating pizza with a fork; I may find it interesting to look at, but there is no way I would want anyone else to copy it, or see it become the trendy thing to do.
However, Weezer decided to take my cover album preconceptions and smash them over my head. A delightfully colourful offering, this upbeat 10 track offering quite honestly has a little bit of everything.
It starts with the now familiar cover of “Africa,” which is decent enough but a tad uninspiring to me, before truly springing into life with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” This for me was one of the bolder covers, as it’s one heavily imitated on talent shows, YouTube, and occasionally by artists such as Lorde. Weezer nailed it, though. The synth feels fresh, the vocals are flawless, and the guitars are full of vibrancy and tone. It’s a real highlight, and one track that definitely had me shocked.
The exact same applies to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” and “Take On Me.” They’re two sublime covers that don’t mess with the structure or vibe of the original efforts, and it feels almost energising to listen to. It isn’t a nostalgia-crazed midlife crisis album, far from it in fact, but rather an extremely triumphant change of pace from their usual stylings. The Californian band have completely nailed some iconic songs, and somehow made them all sound like they belong on Weezer’s discography. There’s no note left uncovered; with these layered, well-produced covers feeling like a real return to form for the foursome.
“Paranoid” is one of my personal highlights. It’s gritty, raw, and if you told me I’d enjoy a Black Sabbath cover from a band who have songs such as “Buddy Holly” on their resumé, I’d have probably laughed in your face. But that’s the charm of this album, none of it you particularly expect will sound good, but nearly all of it does. It’s an expectation shattering home-run, and the perfect way to help build some hype for their upcoming full-length effort "the Black Album."
Once you’ve started having fun and settled in with the album, covers like ELO classic “Mr. Blue Sky” feel all the more enjoyable. It’s another surprisingly accurate cover, with the vocals and riffs matching the original in terms of sound superbly. It’s not something you’ll exclaim is better than the original, nor are any of these covers, but they’re good enough that you’re not terrified that there’s been a real disservice done to an artist that has paved the way and inspired more people than I’ve met.
To skim over “Billie Jean” and “Stand By Me,” two covers that are still decent but don’t particularly have anything that grabs you, I’ll take it back to “No Scrubs.” When I saw this on the tracklist I was instantly intrigued, as it felt like the perfect cover for a band that are partial to their fair share of comedy, and what follows is true magic. It has all the attitude of the original, but all the gravitas of a Weezer track. Rivers Cuomo shines here, and the choice of using more traditional instruments adds a tantalisingly newfangled layer that brings the quality up. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face, maybe this whole music thing isn’t for you.
Overall, it’s a carefree album with a staggering amount of quality. It’s evident that effort has been put in to do every single song justice, and as mentioned before, is an emphatic return to form that will help build hype for their upcoming release. If you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up release this year, look no further than this. There are bound to be some people upset, citing that Weezer are "trolling" their fans, but if you just allow yourself to focus on the music, chances are you’ll have a good time.
Rating - 8/10