In recent years, Weezer have leaned further away from the rock heroes they once were and have transitioned into the playful jokers they are now. Their newest release, “The Black Album” comes just a few months after their earlier 2019 release “The Teal Album,” which consisted of old school covers ranging from Michael Jackson to Toto. “The Black Album” was in the works since the release of their 2017 album “Pacific Daydream,” which featured a much brighter power-pop vibe as opposed to this new, electric and innovative sound the band was trying to achieve. During the promotional run, frontman Rivers Cuomo teased that “The Black Album” would be the darkest entry yet in the band’s discography, but unfortunately, this project has fallen a bit short of that. Sure, there is an overarching theme of isolation and loneliness on tracks like “Piece Of Cake” and “Too Many Thoughts In My Head,” but this theme is inconsistent throughout the LP. The tone is leaning towards a more somber sound than any of Weezer’s previous releases but it is far less dark than it was hyped up to be. The rest of the album is quite scattered and feels rather unfinished compared to its predecessors, especially on tracks like “Zombie Bastards” which, while I admit is one of the musical high points of the album, doesn’t serve much purpose for the theme and overall narrative.
Sonically, there are definitely some good moments that shine through on the album. The lead single and opening track “Can’t Knock The Hustle” carries an experimental, 1970s-inspired funk sound that is very different to the band’s typical discography. “High As A Kite” and “Piece Of Cake” both follow the lonesome themes of the album with the lyrics, “I only want to disappear” and “Let me swing by / Tears in my eyes” Lyrically, “Piece Of Cake” is not very complex but the heavy electric guitar and soft piano perfectly complement each other to make the track a sure fan favorite. “Livin’ In LA” sounds like an upgraded song off of their last album “Pacific Daydream;” it’s very similar to what the band has released in the past but with proper production and an overall better sound. “I’m Just Being Honest” takes listeners back to early Weezer like a breath of nostalgic yet fresh air. The song features a classic rock vibe that will surely become a fan favorite.
However, after this point the songs begin to sound quite basic and don’t pick back up until the very end. On “Too Many Thoughts In My Head,” Cuomo explores new heights with his voice by adding in a surprising falsetto towards the end of the track. The drums and vocals are very repetitive, which make the song quite boring to listen to. However, the track does hold up with the dark theme of “The Black Album” with lyrics like, “I never wanted to be lonely / I never thought that life would turn out like this.” There is not much to say about “The Prince Who Wanted Everything,” other than it is an obvious allusion to the late singer, Prince. The lyrics mention “his paisley bones” and “red corvettes” which reference his songs “Paisley Park” and “Little Red Corvette.” Unfortunately, these last few tracks tend to sound like one long verse, never reaching a chorus and disrupting otherwise good flow. The same goes for “Byzantine” which only adds to the feeling of faultiness and incompletion on the LP. However, the album’s closing track, “California Snow,” is another where the band experimented with their sound and it turned out quite well. The lyrics are strange and cringeworthy to begin with, the first lines being, “When I play guitar it’s sick, woo / This is the definition of flow, woo,” but the ‘90s video game-inspired synths and the strong electric guitar make for a fun song to bop your head to.
Overall, when listening to the album in its entirety, the songs just seem to pass by and there are no particular points that catch the listener’s attention. “The Black Album” lands in the middle of the road between innovation and classic Weezer, which is not necessarily a bad thing but will leave devoted fans wondering if Weezer will ever release something entirely new.