Rock critic Dave Marsh raised a few eyebrows back in 1978 when he accused Queen of fascism in a review of their seventh studio album, Jazz. I'm not gonna wade into the waters of Marsh's musical politics or address his opinion of Queen, but I can back Marsh up by saying that I certainly believe a band can tacitly embody a political ideology or a psychological state of mind through their work — and if you'll allow me a brief Marsh-ian conceit, I'm about ready to declare Weezer the world's first truly sociopathic rock band.
Like most everybody else who grew up on and adored 1994's self-titled "Blue Album" and its roiling, angst-ridden follow-up Pinkerton, I cut Weezer as much slack as I could muster for their first couple of half-assed post-2000 albums. But I can pinpoint 2005's execrable Make Believe as the point where they, honest to God, started to creep me out. There's something about listening to "Beverly Hills" or "We Are All On Drugs" that feels like staring into the eyes of a hardened career criminal — nothing but a vast, merciless, unapologetic emptiness. I found myself wondering: If Rivers Cuomo can pass off cold, cursory robotics like "This Is Such A Pity" as heartfelt sentiment, then what else is this guy capable of?
Suffice it to say that the situation hasn't improved since then. Rivers gave us more faceless modern rock on 2008's "Red Album" (Is there an antonym for power pop? "Impotence pop"?) and last year's Raditude only served to convince me that he'd like to see Miley Cyrus chained in his basement. Now, another year brings another Weezer album — Hurley drops in September, replete with the most ill-conceived cover art and title tie-in (see left) in a very long while.
What bothers me about this one is that certain circles of pop writers are desperately scrabbling to hail it as a phoenix-like return of "classic Weezer." I ran into such a claim the other day while I puttered around on Uncrate, and then again over at Spin. Even too-cool P4k keeps dutifully slapping up Weezer headlines on their news feed. I tend to chalk all of this up to the fact that Weezer dropped their major-label deal to put out a record on punk-friendly Epitaph Records — a calculated, unconvincing move if I've ever seen one. A closer look at Hurley's first single "Memories" reveals more of the same dispirited three-chord pop, only with a relentless focus on 1990s nostalgia (and a feeble, entirely wrongheaded Rage Against The Machine name-check). Instead of trying to sell you faceless "bah-bah-bah"s and "ooh baby"s, Weezer hit on the idea of selling you back the recycled remembrances of their 1995ish glory days — the very same memories they've spent the past ten years hocking a big, fat, profitable loogie on.
Also, am I the only one who thinks that the ludicrous drum production makes that thing sound like an Andrew W.K. track? And regardless of your opinion of the W.K., I'm sure you can agree that Weezer should not try and emulate him. Ever.
Anyway, off the top of my head, I'll name five modern mall-pop acts that suck far less than contemporary Weezer: All-American Rejects, The Fray, Maroon Five, Switchfoot, Plain White Ts. Not that I have a huge amount of love or musical respect for any of those acts, but with the amount of play that Weezer still gathers over at Pitchfork and elsewhere, it seems to me that we of the indie-rock blogosphere ought to start covering those, too. However, I'd wager that any self-respecting music writer would sooner replace their iTunes library with a Fueled by Ramen comp, so let's cut a deal — this is the last piece I'll ever write about Weezer if y'all do the same.
(Note: For an alternate version of this article, replace all Weezer references with correlational Green Day references. It should work just as well.)