Weezer: SZNZ: Spring (Crush Music/Atlantic) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, March 2nd, 2024  


SZNZ: Spring

Crush Music/Atlantic

Mar 28, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The first of a four-part EP series inspired by The Four Seasons, a famous collection of four violin concertos by 18th century Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi, the premise of Weezer’s SZNZ series is as follows: one EP per season. Presumably, when added together, there will be a full album you’ll be able to buy at Target next winter. The Vivaldi inspiration isn’t as strange as it may initially seem, considering a) frontman Rivers Cuomo is a known lover of baroque classical music (notably Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”) and b) one of Weezer’s two albums last year (OK Human) ditched the rock guitars for symphonic strings and piano, to surprisingly pleasant results. It was an album that smoothly incorporated Cuomo’s love for pop structure with his baroque appreciation, breaking a streak of trend/meme chasing beginning with Pacific Daydream and their joke-cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Additionally, Cuomo directly confronted the isolation of pandemic living, from regret over taking the routines of social interaction for granted to finding lonesome joy in playing his piano.

However, whereas OK Human was a symphonic pop album, SZNZ: Spring is a pop-rock EP with some acoustic elements. And where OK Human was intensely personal, SZNZ: Spring is only fleetingly so. “Opening Night” sets the tone: the immediate vocal interpolation of the violin melody on Vivaldi’s “Spring” while Cuomo sings “Shakespeare makes me happy/So happy/And I’m happy to be with you” (note: fear the man who claims Hamlet makes him “happy”) over happy acoustic guitar and flute sounds straight out of a renaissance fair act. It’s a silly song but not without charm. It’s both a celebration of Shakespeare (Cuomo’s favorite class at Harvard) and being able to share Shakespeare with your community in a (tentatively) post-pandemic world. It’s a theme that’s echoed (to a lesser effect) on “The Sound of Drums,” which, oddly enough, contains plenty of instruments outside of drums.

There’s a run of allusions to biblical imagery, specifically on the songs “Angels on Vacation” and “The Garden of Eden.” Worry not, Cuomo hasn’t entered his Bob Dylan evangelist phase. While “Angels on Vacation” opens with some honest-to-god “glory, glory, hallelujah’s,” it quickly descends into a cutesy story of two angels taking a break from their godly duties to vacation on earth. Again, silly but charming in its innocence.

What’s not charming is “All This Love,” where Cuomo begs the listener to let him, and I’m not joking, “let out all the love [he’s] been saving up” (follow-up note: under no circumstances should Rivers Cuomo be allowed to let out all his “love”). Mixed in are some annoying Talking Heads “aye aye aye ayes” (not manic enough) and galloping power chords. It’s a cluttered mess of ideas in contrast to “A Little Bit of Love,” which, while unremarkable, is at least a coherent, bubbly little pop number that understands “a little bit of love goes a pretty long way.”

Whether or not you can stomach this will depend on your schmaltz tolerance. In truth, the sum total of these seven songs is insubstantial. They sound like spring only superficially, the Vivaldi connection isn’t carried past the first song, and Cuomo’s lyrics rarely ascend above cliché. And that’s not to mention the post-Pinkerton production that plagues nearly all Weezer albums; so sickeningly sweet it’s a known cause of diabetes. You’d think an EP dedicated to the season most associated with nature coming alive wouldn’t sound so artificial. A little warmth and a little less gloss would’ve gone a pretty long way.

Summer’s next, due out on the summer solstice. The band has had equal measures of success (see The White Album) and failure (see Pacific Daydream) with summer tunes recently so who knows what that’ll bring. Perhaps that’s the appeal of Weezer: 15 albums in and you still never know what level of quality you’re gonna get. For every disappointing Make Believe or Raditude there’s a genuinely inventive pop album like Everything Will Be Alright in the End or OK Human. It’s the thrill of surprise.

Or we’re just masochists. (www.weezer.com)

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 4/10


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