Thoughts on Pig and 9 other gems from Weezer's maligned second coming

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Abr 10 2007, 2h38

I've just heard a song called Pig (downloaded from Shameless Complacency mp3 blog here), allegedly from Rivers Cuomo's latest batch of demos, and got excited about Weezer again. It reminded me how Weezer were the first band that I really got excited about. I often checked their ridiculously complete and frequently-updated gigography 'Karl's Korner' and pored over their latest setlists. I got into guitars and played most of the songs from Blue and Pinkerton 'til I knew them inside-out. I went to their shows and fell under their spell. This all roughly coincided with their 2001 comeback, Weezer (Green Album). This 'second coming' was initially met with extremely good will, but six years on, it seems that most can't find much of a case for Green and the efforts since (Maladroit, Make Believe) really matching up to their formidable 90s double-whammy of Weezer (Blue) and Pinkerton. I find the latter three albums worthwhile rather than essential listening, disappointing given the track record. A once-brave Cuomo latched onto formulaic songwriting structures, neutered his once-soulful lyrics, and the once-dynamic band even briefly gelled into a boringly reductive guitar-pop machine that pretended Pinkerton's meticulous noise never happened. A lot of the songs and sounds are calculated rather than honest.

That said, there are great tunes buried in the three albums and many b-sides and demos of 00s Weezer, and I want to highlight some of them.

Teenage Victory Song - They still opt for a completely unimaginative guitar solo, but this Hash Pipe b-side all about one-upmanship has the kind of quirks Green sorely lacked. 'Gonna play all night, I'm gonna beat you right, and mash you in the nads, and kick you outta sight'.

Glorious Day - It's no more adventurous or dynamic than anything else on Green, but I tend to come back to this as the one that actually attaches its music to its meaning most successfully. The verse melody's kind of insistent, in line with the resolve planted in the lyric. The intro lead transforms from the bashful wonderer to the determined romantic as the crunch beckons the song in. Er, maybe. Like everything else on Green, it ended up being miles better live a year on with a spiffy new arrangement. But unlike a lot of Green (there are other exceptional moments), I think it has a beating heart.

Your Room - a Maladroit demo with a deeply derivative riff that somehow wins me over with its 'choo choo' motif and then its perfect chorus 'You're coming up worlds away/there's nothing that I can say/and all of these games you play will lead me to your room'. The only words, similar to the sparse lyrical policy of...

Death and Destruction - the lyrics would fit on a Post-It note but this is as honest and direct as anything on Pinkerton. Its fleeting chorus of 'So I learn to turn and look the other way' over huge crunchy guitars is one of the most affecting moments on Maladroit.

Burndt Jamb - I have to pick this purely for the thrilling, cheerful groove and chord riff. No idea about the words but I know the demo lyrics were better than the 'Gothic flavour' ones.

December - Only 'Only trust can inspire/soggy lungs to breathe fire' seems slightly idiotic, but in a way that is more charming than Dope Nose's lyrical lobotomy. Also some of the best drumming on Maladroit, the 'It's only natural...' section has a great busy tumble going on.

What Everybody Wants - an outstanding acoustic demo with two guitars, gentle lead lines dancing around ambitious vocal melodies. Didn't make Make Believe, which is nuts.

Pardon Me - in all fairness, most of Make Believe is honest music, often to its detriment in that it takes that to extremely literal levels. Pardon Me is surely the most guilty of this, but escapes much criticism from me, because the positive overwhelms the self-pity and it's excellent pop besides. A lifetime of power chords comes to the fore as the verse smoothly, beautifully slips away into pure apology.

Haunt You Every Day - the obvious standout track on Make Believe. One of the most jealous things Rivers ever wrote, thoughtfully arranged into piano chords and moody, shrill lead lines the likes of which we haven't heard from Brian in a long time. Singing along with his guitar in the nicely noodly coda, Rivers ends the album on a high and promises great things.

Pig - The song boils down a pig's entire life and loves into a few minutes of gentle nostalgic whimsy and huge torch-song notes. The last words 'When I was a baby, I was so happy, I'd play with my friends in the mud' pleased me. Finally he's not copping out with vague generalities, nonsense, or the over-literal. The song works as a sensical, interesting, resoundingly Cuomo metaphor. I like that I can't actually imagine this being twisted into anything that would fit into a Weezer album that currently exists. If Rivers is writing like this instinctively, let's hope he doesn't keep it separate, and the next record will be something very interesting.

Comentários

  • CM1847

    Mykel and Carli is my favorite b-side from them, I'm sure you've heard it, very great song. I like Teenage Victory Song a lot as well, along with Saturday Night and I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams. I find Green to be a generally extremely enjoyable album, it is fun music, great to listen to in the summer with the windows rolled down. I agree that it doesn't touch the first two, but I still hold it in high regards. Maladriot had some of the best singles they ever released in Dope Nose and Gone Fishin', but the album was completely hit or miss, D&D is a good one, I would add Slob as one of my favorites from the post-Pinkerton era. Then came Make Believe which is just a bad album, it is really hard to tell what he was thinking at that point, except that he thought he mastered the art of formulating good pop songs. Have you ever heard Ozma's album Rock and Roll Part 3?? They opened for Weezer on their comeback tour after Green which is sounds like you attended, I'm not sure if they opened when you saw them or not. But that album is a great Weezer-influenced album. It has the quirkiness of Blue with good hooks and memorable guitars as well. I wouldn't put it up against any of the first three Weezer albums, but for essentially a Weezer knock-off-band, it is surprisingly well done.

    Abr 13 2007, 13h39
  • Captain_Captain

    I saw them two nigts in a row at Shepherds Bush Empire on that first Green tour - Burnt Jamb had no lyrics at all, just 'do do do's' and I LOVED it. Still do. Where can I get hold of 'Pig' and 'What Everybody Wants'? I've gotta say your thoughts on the band pretty much mirror my own - I think I listened to Pinkerton literally each and every day on my way to uni back in the day...

    Out 5 2007, 9h56
  • nopicnic

    Jealous you saw them two nights running at Sheps Bush! The very first time I saw them was March 02 when they were gearing up for Maladroit and Rivers was beardy! For you and anyone else reading, I uploaded those two songs here: What Everybody Wants Pig Hope you like em!

    Out 14 2007, 16h29
  • Captain_Captain

    I'd heard What Everybody Wants before now... which is pretty strange - wasn't therea point when they were posting up new demos all the time after Green or Maladroit (can't remember which) I remeber a favourite being Yellow Camaro by Brian though. That rocked. Pig is ace too - almost back to those Mykel & Carli/ Jonas storytelling songs! If that solo demo disc dates back to the Songs from the Black Hole project I'm gonna be very happy - those tracks are rad!

    Out 23 2007, 9h48
  • m2wester

    Weezer posted loads of demos after green and maladroit... what everybody wants and yellow camaro are both after maladroit. Yellow camaro was released on an album of Brians side project the Space Twins btw. Burndt Jamb is one of my all time favourites... It's also the only song on Maladroit where I moan with those who say that the final Album version doesn't live up to the demos before, it lacks a lot of the smooth feeling that both the early do do do version and the longer versions with extended intro have for me. I'd also like to add Modern Dukes and Mad Kow, both recorded first in summer 2000 and later reworked for the scrapped early album 5 demos. Modern Dukes is a short, fast rocker, more or less similar do Dope Nose, but imho better, Mad Kow is one of few true ballads of that time, a snippet of it is included in the VCD... probably my favourite unpublished/only-available-as-demo weezer songs, together with Blast off! (which is technically not unpublished anymore ^^)

    Abr 17 2008, 12h28
  • tadmaster

    I think your criticisms of the latter 3 albums is spot on... except that I also really like these albums. When you take their body of work and line it up to say This Weezer album is miles better than that one, you sometimes forget that they compare favorably with the crap that they are up against in the market. Even the songs you might dismiss as not as good as his other stuff have their merits: *Island in the Sun - this is a great one for breaking out guitars and jamming with friends. It's a simply yearning song that makes for great sing-along. *Damage In Your Heart - a friend was going through a rough divorce, and tormenting herself (and me) with a lot of Evanesence-type stuff. I gave her this song, and stood back to watch the healing begin. Far superior to Dr. Phil. :) *We Are All On Drugs - a brilliant screed excoriating drug use. After listening to it, I don't even want to take aspirin! Weezer are one of those bands whose worst efforts far exceed the best of the rest.

    Abr 26 2008, 12h53
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