REVIEW: Weezer – Pacific Daydream

weezer-pacific-daydream-new-album

Weezer is back, hot off of The White Album, bringing more of the California alt rock that they’re known for with Pacific Daydream. Over the years, the band has taken their fans on a roller coaster ride of emotions with their albums. Their releases have ranged from some real hits to some real misses, all the while deviating farther and farther from the stripped back rock sound of The Blue Album and Pinkerton, the group’s first two and most well-received albums. The band’s eleventh album, Pacific Daydream, is almost pop music. Despite the ups and downs, I really loved The White Album, so I was excited for a new project.

The album runs into its first problem with the first five tracks. The band has been releasing singles since March of this year, and all five of them appear on the record. This wouldn’t be a problem…if the album were more than just nine tracks. At 34 minutes, Pacific Daydream is for sure a little short, but less than half of the project is new material, which really weighs the album down. This is especially apparent since none of these singles really stood out, but I was hopeful for more from the album.

The first track is “Mexican Fender,” one of the first singles to be on the new album. The song was just decent upon first listen, and it’s a little better in the context of the whole album. The instrumentation that comes in behind the vocals on the chorus is pretty layered and fun. The next track is “Beach Boys,” which was my favorite of the singles released. I have a soft spot for twanging bass; the song had me hooked from the beginning. After repeatedly listening to the track, my enjoyment significantly decreased, but the bass line throughout stands out.

The album takes a bit of a turn for the worse with the last three of the singles, starting with “Feels Like Summer.” The track was strategically released in March, a little too early for summer, but probably a marketing move to become a hot summer jam on the radio. The song was fine up until the chorus, where it really loses me (especially as I listen to it in the cold Boston wind). “Happy Hour” and “Weekend Woman” are both pretty mediocre, and the singing on the first verse of the former is pretty rough.

After this track, the album picks up again with the four cuts original to the album. I enjoy all of these songs a bit more, but sadly, I don’t know if that’s because they’re better or just fresher. “QB Blitz” is a softer, more somber cut, and its slower tempo is a breath of fresh air on a rather fast-paced album. The acoustic guitar in the opening serves as a nice entrance to the song, and the way more instruments creep in during and after the first chorus feels like a very natural progression. I do wish the track stayed rawer and more stripped back. This would have made it stand out more. The bridge changes to a weird key that loses me a bit. “Sweet Mary” is another fun cut that builds up nicely all throughout to a satisfying conclusion.

“Get Right,” and “La Mancha Screwjob” are two of my favorite tracks on the tail end of the album. The 16th note bells on the second chorus of “Get Right” give a cool, quick pace, and the subtle harmony in the chorus give a powerful feel to the song. “La Mancha Screwjob” ironically starts with the sound of crickets chirping, but builds to be the most epic and fun song on the album. The booming toms reverberate behind the synth chords and quiet bass, foreshadowing the explosion of the song at the chorus. The percussion grooves behind frontman River Cuomo’s vocals. The track eventually cuts out with the same synth chords from the beginning. The album then ends with “Any Friend of Diane’s.” Although it is a mellower track, it serves as a pleasing finish. The guitar riffs that open the track and reappear in the middle of the song are very out of place on a song like this. The track isn’t too bad or too good, and that summarizes how I feel about the album as a whole.

I was disappointed by how much of the track list was pre-released singles, but even the singles I didn’t like weren’t completely awful. The rest of the tracks also came off lackluster—including the ones I did like (aside from “La Mancha Screwjob”: I really like that song). Nothing was really good, but at the same time, nothing was really bad. The summer vibes also feel fairly out of place with a late October release. To be fair, this might not be true in the band’s hometown of LA.

I felt that every cut from The White Album had its own characteristic that drew me into it. There were constant transitions in the mood of the album; almost every track went back and forth between different vibes. These ups-and-downs kept listeners attentive and tuned in to what would come next. Pacific Daydream is much flatter and monotone. Every song has an upbeat fun feeling. Worse is that all of the tracks follows the same formula: a first verse that builds into a chorus, more instrumentation added in the second verse until a livelier second chorus, a bridge, and the song will end on the chorus. It’s not a bad formula used by plenty of modern day songs, but really? Every track? I love French toast, but if I ate French toast every day I’d get sick of it.

I do think that it’s a fine album, but that’s as positive as I can really get. The more and closer I listen to the album, the more I do enjoy it. However, half of the songs already feel stale, making it tough to fall in love with. If you’re a fan of Weezer you may not be crazy about the more artificial and multi-layered instrumentation, but I think there is some merit to Pacific Daydream. I’ll definitely check out The Black Album that the band has said will be coming out next year.

-Matt Bandel