“the teal album”
In the paraphrased words of soon to be enshrined Rock and Roll HOFer Thom Yorke, “I do it to myself, I do, and that’s what really hurts.” With a night to burn and in the spirit of my generation’s love of hate-based consumption— See: Netflix’s Bird Box, live televised musicals— I decided to undertake a hate-listen of Weezer’s new self-titled “Teal Album.” The album consists of 10 covers of nostalgic songs, largely from the 80’s. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Aaron, that sounds like a bad idea at best, and at worst straight up masochism.” Unfortunately, I can confidently say it’s worse than you think. It is an entirely sterile and joyless enterprise. In fact, calling it joyless and sterile is an insult to other joyless and sterile things, like operating rooms and castrated alligators, because unlike operating rooms and castrated alligators there is absolutely no room for intrigue or mystery. Not one moment in this dismal collection has anything resembling an original idea. It feels as if Rivers Cuomo has assembled a band of junior high buddies to play their favorite tunes at the school dance.
Starting with the much meme’d and maligned cover of “Africa” by Toto, we are treated to a note-for-note faithful recreation of each song. I wish I could say the songs are worse than the originals, but that would necessitate some kind of risk on the part of Weezer or a deviation of any kind. Instead these songs are exactly as good as the originals, but without their souls. I cannot think of a reason not to just make a playlist of the originals and listen to them instead. At least then the recordings would be imbued with the nostalgia that this record aimed for and missed by a mile.
While songs like “Africa,” a-ha’s “Take On Me,” and Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” ring as hollow and artificial as the Casio-level synths on display, it’s the choice of “No Scrubs” that pushed me from disdain to rage. Really Weezer? Maybe twenty years ago this disaffected dreck would’ve felt clever, but it’s 2019 and a group of mediocre middle aged white men taking up space by co-opting the success of women of color feels disrespectful and borderline offensive. I just don’t understand. I guess I know what this album is, but WHY is this album? What are we doing here Weezer? Is your upcoming release so mediocre that you’re resorting to these cheap faux-viral tactics to promote what I am now certain is a flop? TELL ME WHY, RIVERS. TELL. ME. WHY.
I grew up really liking Weezer. I thought their lyrics were smart, poignant and original. The emotions in their music felt not only relatable but accessible. I actually respected their musicianship, and ability to crank out alt-pop treasures. I then went through a long period of forgetting about Weezer with the brief exception of the ubiquitous “Beverly Hills” haunting every fucking radio station on earth. We were recently confronted by SNL with the question of whether or not Weezer is still good or even relevant. The sketch was hilarious, one of the high points of the show’s season, but it raised a legitimate question. Does Weezer have anything left in the tank creatively? The Teal Album gave me a definitive answer: No.
Here’s a YouTube playlist of the original versions of the tunes from Weezer’s set at the Late-Career Desperation Karaoke Tavern.