Weezer's 'Pacific Daydream' is a return to pop that works

PHOTO: Guitarist Brian Bell, vocalist Rivers Cuomo and bassist Scott Shriner of Weezer perform at ID10T festival on June 24, 2017, in Mountain View, Calif.Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic via Getty Images
Guitarist Brian Bell, vocalist Rivers Cuomo and bassist Scott Shriner of Weezer perform at ID10T festival on June 24, 2017, in Mountain View, Calif.

Weezer’s “Pacific Daydream”
***1/2

In a departure from what Weezer did with their last two albums, "Pacific Daydream" shows that they've decided once again to try to court the top 40 crowd. While opener “Mexican Fender” is packed with nods to seventies-style rock, the majority of this album plays like a better-constructed, more well-rounded answer to their 2009 pop offering, “Raditude.”

The gleam and hand claps of “Feels Like Summer” will no doubt turn off the fans of both their classic self-titled (Blue) album and “Pinkerton,” but if you’ve heard the acoustic version that was also released as a standalone single, it shows that the song is solid and pretty decent at its essence. “Beach Boys,” on the other hand, is at first a little on the nose, but if you consider frontman Rivers Cuomo to be his generation’s answer to Brian Wilson, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. It’s embarrassing and cheesy on one level and a fitting tribute on another.

PHOTO: The cover of Pacific Daydream, a new album by Weezer in pictured.Crush Music
The cover of "Pacific Daydream," a new album by Weezer in pictured.

This record is dangerously self-aware and somewhat pretentious, but quite fun. “Happy Hour” is slick but also a hit waiting to happen. Like Beck’s “Colors,” this should have been a summer record. October is a strange choice for a collection this sunny.

“Weekend Woman” plays like a semi-grungy answer to a Phil Spector production while “QB Blitz” is a bizarre combination between confessional balladry and seemingly free-form word association. “Sweet Mary” is an off-kilter love ballad that seems to take its cues from the end of Derek & the Dominoes' “Layla,” while the peculiarly-titled “La Mancha Screwjob” sounds like it is singalong ready.

Although this album is a potential mine-field rife with attempts of accidental self-sabotage, it works. Is this a radically polarizing record? Yes. Will most die-hard Weezer fans understand this record? Probably not. It’s Cuomo’s answer to a modern pop record and against pretty much all odds, it actually succeeds on a very basic level.

Focus Tracks:

“Mexican Fender” This is more than just the biggest keeper of the set -- it' one of the best songs that Weezer has made this decade. At first, it will remind the Weezer fans of their groan-worthy hit “Beverly Hills,” but with repeated listens it just gets more and more indelible.

“Happy Hour” It is full of cliché lyrics about working hard and surviving difficult days at work, but somewhere between its dance beat and its oddball, random cultural references, this song really clicks.

“Get Right” This song starts off quietly and blossoms into a subtly anthemic number with a decent amount of fortitude. On repeat, this song blooms.

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