There are two things you will inevitably hear about Weezer’s new album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End: the first is that that it is a return to form, and the second is that Weezer is finally back, baby. Neither of these things is necessarily true; allow me to explain.
EWBAITE is less a return to form and more a “sum-of-all-parts” record, successfully touching on their entire discography. From the crunchy garage-rock of their first self-titled albums to the rockin’ solos of Maladroit and, yes, even the unfortunate cheese of Raditude, it’s all here it in the band’s attempt at a definitive 41 minutes of rock music. Technically, Weezer isn’t “back” because, well, they never left.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Weezer has (at the very least) remained in the public eye with each album they’ve released, regardless of critical reception. While plenty of fans considered the band dead after their 2005 hit-generator, Make Believe, there were also plenty of redeeming qualities to each album that followed (barring Raditude) that critics decidedly determined not to focus on. EWBAITE hones in on those qualities just enough to refuse to be ignored any longer.
Just take opener “Ain’t Got Nobody,” which takes its sweet time before exploding into a massive hook and frontman Rivers Cuomo’s most personal lyrics in years. “My daddy loved me/No one could touch me/ Until he went and left me lonely,” Cuomo sings in a lower range, before adding “That’s human nature/We fail each other/And keep on searching for another.” This is a theme that runs rampant through the rest of the album, even making the pop sheen of lead single “Back to the Shack” an improvement over the past four albums or so.
While highlights “Lonely Girl” and “Go Away” recapture the band’s glory days, the best comes in the form of songs most personal and experimental (“Foolish Father” and “Cleopatra,” respectively). The former can be considered the album’s centerpiece, a driving number ending in a chorus of the album’s title, while the latter incorporates both folk-ish verses and quick-paced guitar chugs. Still, EWBAITE is far from bullet-proof, the worst offender being the polarizing middle track, “Da Vinci.” What could have been one of the record’s biggest cuts is dragged down by dopey whistling and an embarrassingly weak guitar riff. It’s a low moment during an otherwise solid effort, but luckily, it falls nowhere as low as past clunkers like “Heart Songs” or “Love is the Answer.”
The album reaches its conclusion in the form of a (mostly instrumental) trilogy that may either make or break the album, depending on who’s listening. Essentially, the band decides to close out the album with seven minutes of shred-your-face-off rock and/or roll with a Queen-esque theatricality and a single mission statement: Weezer’s strongest days may be behind them, but that’s not enough of a reason to stop fighting the good fight. After all, they belong in the rock world, and maybe we should happy to have them “back” after all.