This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
All bands have their ups and downs. But few seem to move up and down faster — and further — than Weezer.
Barely a year after forming, this L.A. post-grunge pop-punk quartet were kings of the alt-rock world thanks to their monstrously catchy hit Buddy Holly (and its equally memorable video set in Happy Days’ diner). Barely two years later, however, the emperors were caught with their pants down, thanks to their monstrous stiff of a second album Pinkerton. Soon after, the band went into limbo, with singer-guitarist Rivers Cuomo attending Harvard and bassist Matt Sharp forming The Rentals.
Nothing odd there — just your typical Behind the Music tale of a one-hit wonder band. But in Weezer’s case, there’s a twist: Absence made the public’s heart grow fonder. Their albums continued to sell and their fan base swelled to the point the band sold out their reunion tour — even though they hadn’t recorded in five years! Of course, that state of affairs didn’t last long. Here’s the inevitable reunion album. And as reunion albums tend to be, it’s a return to form in every possible way — in Weezer’s case, right down to the eponymous title, unsmiling band pic and monochromatic cover of their first album. You want the first Weezer record again? Well, here it is.
That holds just as true for what’s inside the jewel case. Reuniting (naturally) with original producer Ric Ocasek of The Cars, Cuomo and co. have cranked up the Marshalls and distortion pedals and cranked out 10 crunch-pop classics calculated and guaranteed to please radio programmers, your little sister and your eardrums. In fact, at times it comes off a little too calculated to please. From the summery grind of Don’t Let Go to the final ringing chord of O Girlfriend, every second of this album is so finely honed, so deliberately crafted, so exquisitely produced, it’s like Cuomo is following some sort of recipe. Buzzsaw power-chord guitars? Check. Sugar-sweet melodies and harmonies? Check. Handclaps and, “Oh, whoa-whoa” backups? Check. Bopping drumbeats and bouncy basslines? More hooks than a bait shop? Check, check and check.
Thing is, smoetimes there’s more sizzle than steak here. Yes, these songs sound great. But most of them aren’t great songs — at least, not quite as great as Buddy Holly or Undone (The Sweater Song). And even though they’ll have you banging your head and tapping your feet and playing air guitar while the CD’s on, when it’s over — after less than 30 measley minutes, I might add — you might have a hard time remembering how some of them went. In other words, Weezer the album — like Weezer the band — has its ups and downs.