The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Friday, May 18, 2001

28 1/2 More (Weezer) Minutes Of Fun

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: To be honest, Weezer weren't on my mind. I probably hadn't thought of them, well, since Gil Kaufman and I interviewed departed bassist Matt Sharp before the second Rentals album came out, and we weren't really thinking all that much about Weezer at that point anyway. Somehow, when such Weezer-influenced combos as Blink 182 and the Get Up Kids showed up, I wasn't thinking Weezer either. Don't know why not — perhaps because the last Weezer album was the not-so-power-pop Pinkerton. But all of a sudden everything is Weezer again, and thank god for that. It's about time a great band made a great power-pop album and got it released on a major label. Like the first album, the new one is called simply Weezer. Right away I like it. Minimalism is a good thing. Weezer is a good thing. (You can tell it's a different album from the first one 'cause the color is green and there's a different photo of the Weezer guys and the song titles on the back are different.) The album clocks in at just under 29 minutes — more minimalism. More of a good thing. Already people are complaining. (Check out this essay on the Glorious Noise site.) Another good thing. I like it when people complain. "It's too short," more than one Weezer fan has told me. Wrong. If you think it's too short, you know it's a good album. It's the ones that take up every second of a CD, but stop being worth listening to 30 or so minutes in that are the problem. Never forget that Ramones — all 14 songs — was a 30-minute blast. As I understand it, Pinkerton resulted from Weezer singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo's decision, after the success of the first album, to take chances with his writing and get personal. Here's what he told Clare Kleinedler and me when we interviewed him for Addicted To Noise, shortly before the album's release in 1996. "Yeah, I think I changed as a result of writing the songs for the second album. And also from the experiences I had. It's all so intertwined. I can never separate it. The past two years in my life and in my writing, I've been trying to get in touch with that masculine part of myself that I was completely in denial of before. And so, yeah, the first record sounds kind of wimpy and emasculated almost. And the second record sounds like the masculine part trying to bust out, although it's not altogether successful. It doesn't sound like a Pantera record or anything." The album didn't sell, though, at least not in Weezer-like quantities, and Cuomo kinda freaked. "That was a devastating disappointment," Cuomo told the Los Angeles Times recently. "'Cause at the time I felt we had come up with something really new and fresh and exciting and important. It was very personal to me also. And we put it out and everyone said they hated it, just across the board — our fans, all the critics. It was just the worst stab in the heart. And that was definitely one of the factors that led to me not being able to leave my room for a few years." Which is so weird, 'cause I remember getting Pinkerton and really digging it, especially "The Good Life." And Clare dug it. And we wrote in Addicted To Noise that we dug it. So who knows? But what's interesting here is that Cuomo retreated from the more personal approach to writing. "There were songs on the [first] album that were pointing the way to a personal, confessional style, and that's what I got really excited about as I went to do Pinkerton," he told the Times. "But now I'm just totally closed. I think they're [Weezer fans] gonna miss the extreme emotionalism. They're gonna say, 'He doesn't sing with any feeling anymore, he's not letting his feelings out.' And the truth is, I miss that too. But all things considered, I think this is a stronger record. This record stands on its own without having to manipulate people's emotions." Now this is interesting, because Cuomo is older and more experienced now and has been through a real emotional rollercoaster, and he's brought all that to the new material, one way or another. Even if the more personal details aren't literally in these songs, they're still there in the feeling. There's something slightly off-center about Weezer songs — you'd never mistake them for Shoes or Big Star or the Raspberries or the Flamin' Groovies or Blink 182 or any of the other bands that have worked in the power-pop area. I'll tell you something else: Stop worrying so much about whether it's better than Pinkerton, or a retreat, or whatever. Just put the damn CD in the player, crank it up loud and let it wash over you. Whaddya want from rock, and especially Weezer, anyway?

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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