We’ve come a long way from “I wonder how you touch yourself” and “I’m dumb, she’s a lesbian!” This week, Weezer put out a surprisingly tame single called “Cleopatra” from their upcoming release Everything Will Be Alright in the End. The album is set to drop in a little less than a month. You can check out “Cleopatra” here.
If you can get past all the stretchy syllables (“You can’t control me no more Cleopatch-er-uhh, patch-er-uhh, patch-er-uhh”), it’s not a bad song. But my main impression was that it sounded a little childish. You might think that’s just what they were going for when you see the super cute, Where the Wild Things Are-esque album cover. But this is actually supposed to be kind of a pensive, grownup song. “The overarching theme of the album is an increased awareness of the impermanence of everything we took for granted,” explained lead vocalist and guitarist Rivers Cuomo. That’s serious stuff.
As far as the music goes, the first four seconds of it sound almost exactly like the intro of “Piazza New York Catcher” by Belle and Sebastian. When the twangy harmonica comes in, you’re kind of disappointed it’s not Belle and Sebastian. The only thing that really makes it unique is the 5/4 time signature they switch to in the chorus, which is quite cool. But honestly, it feels like something right off Pretty Odd, Panic! at the Disco’s infamously divergent second album. If you need a refresher, Pretty Odd included the songs “Mad as Rabbits” and “Nine in the Afternoon,” and received some criticism for being too soft. Weezer might be in the same boat with this one.
The verses in “Cleopatra” are delivered in such a mild, sing-songy fashion I can’t help but picture a red ball bouncing over them. To make it even more of an educational sing-along, there are two little guitar breakdowns (which sound about as rock & roll as Veggie Tales) that feature them chanting in bad-boy voices, “5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40!” Well, at least you can finally learn how to count by fives.
There’s nothing wrong with putting out an awesome children’s song. I mean, look at how many great performances we’ve seen on Yo Gabba Gabba over the years from unexpected groups like MGMT, the Shins, the Ting Tings, and even Weezer themselves back in 2010 with “All My Friends Are Insects.”
The problem with “Cleopatra” is that it’s not supposed to be a children’s song. Weezer is trying to express a very real struggle here, but unfortunately, the music doesn’t seem to match the meaning. Hopefully, the rest of the album will sound a little more mature so they can really get their point across.