April 22, 2004

WEEZER -- WEEZER (Deluxe Edition)

Weezer -- Deluxe Edition.jpg

Ten years later, the hooks and loner perspective hold their own

Many a grizzled FM DJ has assured listeners that hit songs don't have to be old to be classic. Now, record companies also would apparently have us believe that big-selling albums roughly a decade old are ready to take their rightful place in rock history alongside the likes of, say, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

At least that seems to be the message behind Geffen/Universal's reissue of Weezer's self-titled debut -- aka "The Blue Album" -- as part of its double-disc Deluxe Edition series of "legendary" releases. Even if bestowing such a distinction on this album seems premature, there is no denying its impact: upon its release in spring 1994, amidst a rock landscape dominated by the heavy-handed wail of grunge, Weezer's seemingly harmless, lilting pop helped liberate the airwaves for rock geeks everywhere.

Years later, "Undone -- The Sweater Song" still sounds as nonsensical as ever, and with its slow build-up to a grunge-lite chorus, it's easy to see why it was a welcome first single. In retrospect, it's even more of an anomaly, as it barely hinted at Weezer's trustiest weapon: its endearing loner-pop aesthetic. This was most evident on the big hit single "Buddy Holly," an irresistibly catchy slice of young misfit love, but it's found throughout the disc. On "In the Garage," singer-songwriter Rivers Cuomo depicts even more of an outcast -- this one is taking refuge there, instead of in a relationship with a fellow dweeb ("In the garage/I feel safe/No one cares about my ways") -- while the slacker spirit rings out triumphantly on "Surf Wax America," in the punked-up, battle-cry refrain, "You take your car to work/I'll take my board." And even on the most downcast tune here, "Say It Ain't So," the soaring hooks and crunching guitars keep things from sounding depressingly bleak -- a technique seemingly lost on the ultra-serious, overbearing "emo" bands that are so popular with many of today's young record buyers.

Then again, some of those kids undoubtedly own a Weezer record. After all, the band has released three more well-received albums and remained a household name amid several lineup changes. Meanwhile, classic or not, "The Blue Album" has sold more than 3 million copies. Plenty more units figure to move off shelves now that the CD has been reissued and repackaged to include a second disc packed with rarities, B-sides and alternate takes -- essential stuff for the music nerds who buy records, not make them.

-- By George Henn

Posted by medleyville at April 22, 2004 03:28 PM