Weezer

Weezer (The Teal Album)

Crush Music/Atlantic

Feb 05, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


What is the deal with Toto's "Africa?" I ask purely from the perspective of a critic confused by how this glossy and very silly '80s pop song has captured the public's imagination over all of the other glossy and very silly '80s pop song. If I knew the answer, I imagine I might be able to appreciate The Teal Album.

What is it about this song that inspires a mixture of hilarity and admiration in so many people? Is the joke that it's a terrible song? Or is it that it's actually a great song masquerading as a terrible one? For me, it falls awkwardly between those points; too slick to be anything more than pleasantly amusing and certainly not interesting enough to hold my attention beyond the first chorus. The same problem befalls this album.

After Weezer's "Africa" cover earned them their first hit in nearly a decade, it was only sensible for Rivers Cuomo and co. to cash in on the success. It helps too that Weezer have never been averse to a good meme; think back to the Happy Days nostalgia of the "Buddy Holly" video, the early YouTube roll-call of "Pork and Beans," or the cover art of 2010's Hurley. The only difference here is The Teal Album feels like the first example of a Weezer album conceived primarily as a meme.

The result is an album curated in the style of an iPod shuffle. So, in addition to "Africa," we get Cuomo's take on Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," and, because Weezer's genre of choice is post-shame, TLC's "No Scrubs." Each one is recreated in painstaking detail, making it all sound like a collection of expensive karaoke instrumentals.

That attention to detail, and Weezer's general proficiency as players, means The Teal Album is rarely awful. In fact, its worst song might be "Africa," which is played with the flaccid energy of a cruise ship band two days from retirement-a similarly listless "Take on Me" (a-ha) comes a close second. But there are moments across this record that reach a level of almost-fun. That cover of "Paranoid" is a surprisingly convincing impersonation of the Sabbath original and the band's stomping take on The Turtles' "Happy Together" would undeniably rock a 2000s rom-com soundtrack. Later, their "Mr. Blue Sky" (Electric Light Orchestra) is genuinely good in a "that wedding band was really good, weren't they?" sort of way.

The problem with The Teal Album is not that these songs are badly played or that they are bad songs. The problem is how mind-numbingly pointless the exercise feels and how much better it could have been. A Weezer covers album is not necessarily a bad idea and you can easily imagine how you could make a good one. Either make a heartfelt record exploring the band's influences (represented here by the "Happy Together" to "Mr. Blue Sky" run) or fully commit to the kitsch (à la "Africa" or "No Scrubs").

As it stands, Teal fails to commit to any concept and is worse for it. Is there anything particularly good or funny about hearing Weezer do The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" or Ben E. King's "Stand by Me?" I can't hear it, so what they're doing here is unclear. Meanwhile, their "Billie Jean" is a PTSD-triggering flashback to the god-awful rock covers of Michael Jackson from the mid-2000s.

Who exactly is The Teal Album designed to please then? Presumably, the same people who find something inherently hilarious about a cover of Toto's "Africa." But it's also likely that it's not really designed to be listened to at all. At least not more than once. As someone who's spent four days listening to it, I can assure you it does not reveal its charm over time.

The whole endeavor feels like a joke set-up with no punchline. The Teal Album's greatest sin is it is neither the best nor worst version of itself and by being so overwhelming mediocre, it renders itself completely pointless. It is essentially musical copypasta. You can imagine how we could run this scenario in 100 alternative universes and somehow this Weezer covers album would still be the most frustratingly boring one.

I can understand Weezer forgot long ago what they were good at. I know they've forgotten how to write great songs. But here's the thing-at least they used to make better memes than this. (www.weezer.com)

Author rating: 3.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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Dan
February 5th 2019
8:53am

Are you kidding? The original ‘Africa’ is GLORIOUS