Weezer is a rock and roll institution. Especially after their recent resurgence, it seems that most everybody you ask, be it a die hard fan or a snooty critic, will have a different opinion on the band and their many albums.
But, no matter how polarizing the group has become, what everybody can agree on is that their debut self-titled album, also known as the Blue Album, is an absolute landmark.
Weezer struck a unique sound that’s as weird and eclectic as it is familiar and cozy. The album could best be described as an attempt to add a level of complexity and variety to the genre of power pop. Musical cliches of the genre, such as major-minor third progressions and warm guitar tones, are given a special twist on each song.
“Buddy Holly” features a breakdown with a rock-rap verse from lead singer Rivers Cuomo, “In The Garage” features a harmonica and acoustic guitar that give off the vibe of a quaint medieval village, and “Undone – The Sweater Song” repeats a somewhat dissonant riff over awkward conversations, just to name a few examples of the creativity in the band’s approach.
Weezer makes these impressive arrangements sound so simple and obvious, preserving the pop appeal but never dumbing it down. Cuomo is the star of the show. His vocals are lovingly off-kilter and pitch-perfect at the same time, while the passionate and awkward lyrics tell tales of a socially anxious man who loves Dungeons and Dragons, is scared of social interaction, and is way too overprotective of his girlfriend.
The excellent production is the cherry on top. The drums are crisp, the guitars are heavy, and the vocals dip in and out of the mix in a way that keeps the rawness alive.
How many bands not named Nirvana have have maintained constant rotation on alternative rock radio for the past 25 years straight? Counting “My Name Is Jonas,” “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So” and “Undone,” this album alone has four.
All-in-all, there’s almost nothing bad to say about the Blue Album. And while some may argue Weezer lives in the shadow of its greatness for the rest of their career, it’s a pretty fantastic shadow, cast by a true a pop rock masterpiece.