It’s not easy thinking up albums that are inherently bad yet still enjoyable. For example… I contemplated doing an Awesomely Awful Album for George Michael’s Faith, but after thinking about it some more I decided that there is nothing awful about the album whatsoever. It’s actually as perfect of a pop record as you can get next to Thriller. And while yes it’s cheesy at times now, it never tries to pretend to be something it isn’t. And that there is the quintessential criteria for choosing an Awesomely Awful Album.
Which brings me to our fourteenth entry into the canon… Weezer’s self-titled (or Green) third album. I wrote at length about Pinkerton some months ago, and in lieu of Weezer’s new album and their obvious attempt to further destroy whatever musical legacy they may have once had.
It took Weezer 5 years to follow up Pinkerton. And while Pinkerton was a huge commercial and critical flop, in those 5 years it gained a huge following and went on to influence a million shitty bands (mostly from the suburbs of NJ). I loved the Blue Album, and I loved Pinkerton even more. And while I was far from 17 year old kid I was when Pinkerton came out (immersed in a constant hunt for the most obscure and least commercial music possible), I was still pretty damn excited at the prospects of this album. Nostalgia is a pretty strong emotion, at least with me. When it finally came out and I got to listen to it, I was all at once really happy and also really disappointed with it. Since it had been 5 years I kinda had been hoping Weezer was crafting some magnum opus that would take their own brand of power-pop even further and more conceptual than they had done on Pinkerton… but instead what I got was a calculated attempt at re-doing the Blue Album.
The Green Album is so chock full of infectious hooks, riffs and choruses that its hard to be mad or even hate it because you can’t help but sing along with it. And while the execution is perfect, it however feels hollow & frivolous at it’s core, like a the musical equivalent of Laffy Taffy. It lacked any of the heartfelt emotion and self-deprecating humor that littered the previous two albums and instead simply presented silly pop songs. I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment when I realized just how much the band meant to me so long after I had thought I had outgrown them. But I don’t think it was my own high expectations, I really think Weezer rolled out a safety net as an album. Most bands are never afforded the luxury of putting out an album such as Pinkerton, having it blow up in their face only to be vindicated such a short time later. If I was River’s Cuomo and that happened to me I’d go back out into the world with the biggest chip on my shoulder and sense of artistic license. So to watch Weezer step back onto the world stage and play it safe felt & sounded like such a cop-out! A really enjoyable cop-out, but still a cop-out. I suppose having it all, losing it and then being given a second chance makes you want to play it safe… I wish it hadn’t though, because playing it safe has now become their trademark and the Green Album marked the beginning of the end for what could have been one of the US’s all time great Power Pop bands.
Or maybe, just maybe… Matt Sharp was the real heart behind the Blue Album and Pinkerton. Adding that unquantifiable x-factor to the band that left with him. He does have the great Return of the Rentals to his name to fuel some speculation… But then again he also made a pretty poor follow-up to it. Maybe the magic of Weezer rested between the tension between Rivers Cuomo & Matt Sharp and with the release of their new self-titled Red Album it’s clear the magic is long gone.- My Pal the Crook