After four years without an album, Weezer is back with Everything Will Be Alright in the End. The album follows two of the band’s most maligned releases, Raditude and Hurley. The band, recognizing their errors, decided to take some time off from recording and wait until they had enough songs that they felt were good enough for release to start recording again.
The album and its story begin with the track “Ain’t Got Nobody”. Before the song even starts, we hear voices saying things like “Rock is dead, guitars are dead” and “I’m proud of you son.” This song is probably the most “Weezer” on the album. It is upbeat rocker with a strong melody and lyrics of loneliness. A personal highlight for me is the solo, which is definitely one of the band’s best in years. It’s simple on the surface with more to look into underneath, both musically and lyrically. Next, is the album’s first single “Back to the Shack.” Shack is one of the lesser songs on the album, but not a complete write-off. Drummer Pat Wilson and bassist Scott Shriner have nice moments on the track and front man/writer/lead guitar player Rivers Cuomo provides another great solo. The lyrics are a bit too on the nose for me, directly referencing the lackluster response to their last couple of releases and mentioning Wilson by name. Track 3 is “Eulogy For a Rock Band,” a song co-written with two of the guys from Ozma. The song reflects on an unnamed band who has reached the end of their lifespan. It’s not the best song on the album, but it’s still not a bad one. “Lonely Girl” is next and this song sounds like it is straight off of Weezer’s 2001 self-titled Green Album. This song doesn’t do much for me; The production is rather boring, the melody could be saved with a different vocal take, but as it stands now it sounds like Cuomo is half asleep. The solo is nothing special and the bridge is nothing more than dropping all the instruments but a guitar and vocal.
With track 5, the album finally begins to really get started. “I’ve Had it Up to Here” is one of my favorite tracks on the record. The verses have a bit of a groove to them with lyrics that are personal, but not beat-you-over-the-head personal like “Back to the Shack.” For the first time in years, the lyrics in this song actually sound like they’re coming from a man with an English degree from Harvard. It’s very Townsend-eque, particularly Quadrophenia or The Who By Numbers – that is until the bridge comes, when the song begins to sound like a Queen track, complete with layered vocals and Brian May style guitar playing. Thankfully, the song manages to slow down its tempo without losing any of its energy, as it fades directly into the next track, “The British are Coming.” I’ve heard this described as a song that feels like it is late 60s, Carl Wilson-lead Beach Boys by way of Cheap Trick, and that is dead on. The lyrics, on the surface, tell the story of Paul Revere, but could just as easily describe Cuomo’s relationship with record executives trying to take control of his band and rock as a genre. On an album full of great guitar solos, this is the best one and the emotional high point of the album. I must say, I’m surprised a song used the lyric “Punk ass Red Coats trying to run the show/Telling me what to do and where to go” and didn’t make me cringe. I don’t know how or why, but somehow it works.
After two of the album’s best songs comes “Da Vinci.” The lyrics are squeezed in to fit the melody a bit too much on this one. However, combined with the odd riff, whistling and quirky lyrics, it works; not completely, but for the most part it’s alright. Next up is “El Scorcho,” the quirky love song with lyrics that will either make you laugh out loud because of its stupidity or because of its brilliance. “Go Away” is a retro sounding duet written with Bethany from Best Coast. The song doesn’t break new ground musically or lyrically, but it does what it sets out to do and makes for an enjoyable listen. “Cleopatra” is a song that (on paper) shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. The changes in time signature appear effortless and like a natural progression of the song. The counting in the bridge might be off-putting to some, but it works fine for me when considering the lyrics of the rest of the song and the instrumentation. I especially liked the harmonica in the intro, which hasn’t been heard on a Weezer record since “Pig” on the deluxe version of 2008’s Red Album. The intro for “Foolish Father” is one of the best things the band has ever recorded. The lyrics in this song are really good, as it’s basically Cuomo’s apology to his daughter for not being the best father while at the same time he comes to terms with his own father’s shortcomings. The music, however, sounds a bit too similar to past Weezer songs like “O Girlfriend” and “The Damage in You Heart.” At the end of the song, a “choir” sings the album’s title. This “chorus,” however, actually just sounds like one person, but it does sound as powerful as it should.
The final three songs are the Futurescope Trilogy. The first song is “The Waste Land,” which is instrumental and largely an excuse for the band to show off their shredding skills. From what I’ve read, Cuomo revealed in a Twitter Q&A that he thought of the song as “representing that place an artist can find themselves when they’ve sold their soul and chased after page views, clicks, RT’s, and lost touch with their source of inspiration. That’s the waste land. As anyone can tell listening to that song, the artist in question triumphs and makes it out.” With that in mind, you can definitely hear that in the music. The middle song in the trilogy is “Anonymous,” which is the only song with lyrics. This is the song that changes the most musically, so the lyrics help keep the listener oriented and provide a sense of unity for the song. The final song is “Return to Ithaka”, an obvious reference to the Odyssey. Just as Odysseus returns home after his travels to find his wife still faithful to him, Cuomo has weathered the storm and battled his way home to his musical roots to find his fans patiently awaiting his return. The trilogy and Ithaka in particular end the album on a triumphant note (much more triumphant than if they ended on Foolish Father).
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the album does have a story to it. Through out the album, you’ll hear various voices. These are the voices of the characters from the webisodes Weezer has been making on their Youtube channel. Nobody’s cracked the code on just what the exact story is just yet, but here are my thoughts: Joe Laffoley has made a deal that allows him to see into his son’s future. He sees his son, Sebastian, rise to fame as the front man of the Astronauts with their first hit single (Ain’t Got Nobody). Along the way, he meets a girl (Lonely Girl), falls for her (Da Vinci), cheats on the girl until she finds out (Go Away), breaks off his ties with the older woman he was cheating with (Cleopatra), and returns to the original girl who finally forgives him (Return to Ithaka). These songs form the “Bella Donna” section of the album. His band has similar troubles; They realize the errors of their ways (I’ve Had it Up to Here), vow to return to their roots (Back to the Shack), and finally escape the waste land (The Waste Land). These songs form “The Panopticon Aritst” section. The final section is “Patriachia” which deals with father figures. Sebastian looks back at his literal (The British are Coming) and musical (Eulogoy for a Rock Band) forefathers, giving him the inspiration to break away from the record company and the controlling hand of the woman whom Cleopatra is about. The last two songs are a little trickier: “Foolish Father” could be coming from Sebastian’s point of view towards his own daughter, his father’s point of view towards his son, or both. “Anonymous” similarly refers to the birth of a child or Sebastian or Sebastian’s child. Either way, in the webisodes, the story ends with Joe seeing his song overcoming all these obstacles and thanking his late father as his band wins an award. And with that, Joe is hauled away and Sebastian will never see him again.
Now the album and final webisode just came out last week, so there’s still plenty of time for people to dig and try to find out the true meaning of the album and it’s story. Whether my ideas are right or wrong, it feels good to see the band putting this much effort into a record.
Whether you’re a hardcore Weezer fan or you only like their older stuff, I’d check out this record. It’s not as good as their first two, but it’s better than most albums. If you’re only going to listen to a couple tracks, I recommend “The British are Coming,” “I’ve Had it Up to Here,” and “The Futurescope Trilogy.” Now, let’s just hope the next one is as good as this one.