Arts

The OK Human record sleeve
We asked our Weezer loving EIC to help out with this one. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

Our EIC and arts editor compare their reviews on Weezer

Avid Weezer fan Charley Dutil on their newest release: OK Human

Standout single: “All My Favorite Songs” – 4/5

Released on Jan. 21 as a precursor to the new album, “All My Favorite Songs” is a departure from the sound Weezer had adopted in recent years, most notably on 2019’s Black album.

The lyrics and the tempo are reminiscent of Pinkerton-era Weezer. They are self-centered with the narrator asking himself numerous times “What is wrong with me?” All his favourite songs are slow and sad, all his favourite people make him mad and everything that makes him feel good is bad. The lyrics remind me a lot of Pinkerton’s “Longtime Sunshine,” especially the line “Sometimes I wish I was on an island / But then I’d miss the sound of sirens” which is quite similar to the escapism of “Longtime Sunshine.” 

There are some things that do need to be said, however, about these lyrics. They are at times very basic and at this point in his career, Rivers Cuomo should not be singing  “bad, bad, bad”, over and over again. At the same time, though, their basic nature makes them relatable especially in the pandemic era where we’ve all had the narrator’s simple thought — “what is wrong with me?”

In terms of instrumentation, this is not a traditional guitar song. The songs on OK Human were made for an orchestra, and this song is no different. It starts with a short mellotron intro and transitions to string instruments such as violins, light percussion, and at times even trumpets. What makes its instrumental stand out, however, is its juxtaposition with the lyrics, it’s upbeat and very melodic — the song makes you bop your head and smile. My first thought upon hearing the instrumentation of this song was Oasis’ “Whatever”, as the sound and upbeat nature of the melody are rather similar.

One of the negatives that surround this tune is its video. It’s basically an ad for Google Pixel, and I was not a fan. 

Overall, it’s a solid tune — the most solid Weezer has put out since the White album. 

OK Human extended review – 4.5/5 

What is important to understand before reviewing this album is that it’s so different from Weezer’s previous records. The band has never released a record fully backed by orchestral instruments. This shows that even in their early fifties, they are willing to experiment and leave their comfort zones — something that most successful ‘90s bands fail to do with their new records. 

Now as for the actual record, it’s well produced. I’ve yet to purchase it on vinyl, but I bet when I do, it will sound great.

The only oddity arising at times, such as on the tune “Numbers,” is that Cuomo’s’ voice blends with the instruments. I don’t know if that’s a mixing issue or just the natural timbre of his voice and the instruments blending together and I wouldn’t say it’s a problem, per se, but it’s noticeable.

The album starts off strong: the first three songs are arguably the strongest on the album upon first listen, designed to keep the listener intrigued. The aforementioned “All My Favorite Songs” opens up the album, followed by “Aloo Gobi ” which also gives off a relatable vibe. 

Why? 

Because it’s about being stuck in the “Same old dull routines”, something most of us are familiar with due to the pandemic. But the truth is, the lyrics don’t matter for this song; what makes it great is its piano melody, plus the fact that it flows perfectly into the next song, “Grapes of Wrath.”

“Grapes of Wrath” is a tune carried by string instruments and the combative nature of its chorus. It’s about taking refuge from the world by submerging oneself in an alternate universe: “I’m gonna rock my Audible / Headphone Grapes of Wrath / Drift off to oblivion / I just don’t care.”  It’s also filled with book references which is nice, but the only thing that does bother me is the consumerism associated with the song. Like, did Audible sponsor this song?

Moving on, “Numbers” and “Playing My Piano” are decent, but there’s nothing much to say here — they’re the definition of album cuts.  

The second side of the record opens with “Screens”, which has a very catchy cello riff. I could see this being a single; the track basically discusses our constantly evolving obsession and overreliance on screens and technology. It’s nice, catchy, and touches on an issue that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Bird with Broken Wings” is probably Weezer’s strongest lyrical effort on the album. It took me a couple of listens to really appreciate the beauty of this song, but once I did I was very moved and once again it felt very relatable. 

Cuomo said he felt irrelevant while writing the song and it is a feeling that is beautifully echoed in the song, you can feel his pain. Those types of songs are Cuomo’s best, in my opinion. This is without a doubt my favourite song on the album. 

A couple tracks down “Here Comes the Rain” is a fun, catchy song, probably the happiest number on the record. It also has what seems to be a fun reference to their 1996 song “The Good Life.” Finally, the album closes on a note about life. The narrator feels like his career is metaphorically sinking in the song’s namesake the “La Brea Tar Pits” and needs help to stay afloat. It’s a nice way to close out this album. 

Overall, this is, in my opinion, one of Weezer’s best albums. This is one of those rare times where experimenting and expanding your horizons as an artist worked. Weezer captured the vibe of being alone in your room/house/apartment and waiting for the pandemic to pass — waiting for when we can all go out and be together. 

This’s a feeling Cuomo has felt in the past and it resulted in Pinkerton — a collection of songs written by a man in his early 20’s stuck at home for months due to surgery. 

This is Pinkerton but refined. Cuomo is now fifty, and the songs are less raw, the lyrics more mature, and melodies much cleaner, but they’re just as dark and introspective. 

Non-Weezer listener Aly Murphy on Weezer in general

Hi.

Aly here.

Before this week I’d never listened to Weezer (except for “Beverly Hills”), much to the chagrin of my evidently enthusiastic editor, Charley.

This week, in honour of Weezer’s new album and in an attempt to maintain my employment at the Fulcrum, I gave Weezer’s extended discography a listen. 

It’s not my favourite — I’ll still return to my sad girl piano playlists once I’ve finished writing this piece — but a few songs have jumped out at me, and in true Fulc music fashion, I’m here to share a few of ‘em with you.

“All My Favorite Songs” – 4/5

This new track is neat! It’s rather Beatles-esque, and has some fun instrumentation. There’s definitely been a commendable growth in the band’s sound from ‘90s rag-tag to ‘20s indie chic. This one’s made it onto my go-to playlist.

Yeah, Cuomo, all my favourite songs are slow and sad, too. That’s why I’m not super enjoying writing this piece for work. But this one’s ok.

Here are my takes on some older Weezer hits.

“Beverly Hills” – 5/5

Still slaps. 

“Zombie Bastards” – 4/5

This was a surprise! I didn’t really expect to like a song called “Zombie Bastards” (given I generally listen to Taylor Swift and nothing else).

But the ukulele and vocals almost have an early Twenty One Pilots vibe (Cuomo even sounds a little like Tyler Joseph at times), and it’s admittedly a really fun little track. Not earth-shattering, but I’d bop to this on a long drive.

Pinkerton – 2/5

This was the one my boss made me listen to lest I stop being employed.

I just…

The ‘90s grunge thing is tired. Maybe this album was straight fire when it came out but I didn’t grow up with this album. I don’t have an ongoing emotional attachment to Weezer. I’m actually enjoying some of their newer stuff more than I expected to, but I just can’t get behind this one.