Last year Weezer’s fourth eponymous record (a.k.a. The White Album) offered a promising expansion on their classic sound while also returning to the golden sands of California Power Pop. Rivers Cuomo’s catchy hooks and signature Geek Rock lyricism sounded like classic Weezer, but the addition of diverse instrumentation, like a piano part on nearly every song, and a new prosaic, almost stream-of-consciousness complexity to the lyrics made the record sound remarkably forward-thinking for a band that hadn’t sounded fresh for nearly a decade. On their new record, Weezer keeps the pianos and odd lyrics, keeps the California aesthetic, and applies both to the contemporary Pop sounds they explored on Raditude eight years ago. The result is a mediocre synthesis of two boring, modern Weezers—the only thing that keeps Pacific Daydream remotely interesting or unique is the way Cuomo further explores his new lyrical style.
The album’s first single, “Feels Like Summer” best exemplifies this synthesis—the first verse has reverbed piano chords on the upbeats and a slight shuffle-step to its beat—these elements have the same chipper, song-of-the-summer effect as Fun’s “We Are Young”. The heavy electronic bass, thin snare hits, and skipping high hat nod to EDM and Trap. Cuomo’s occasional spoken parts and lazy articulation hint at the Hip Hop influence present on older Weezer albums, like Make Believe. Sonically, it’s an indistinct amalgamation of a bunch of innocuous Pop styles, and a remarkably bad song. Cuomo’s easily identifiable vocals and lyrics stand out as its strongest part, not because they’re particularly compelling, but because they’re the only things that sound remotely like Weezer.
The first verse describes a lonely boy, who may be sad because he’s going through a breakup or otherwise lost a general “she”. The second verse features the boy describing himself in vague, bromidic terms—but it’s worth saying that Cuomo accomplishes this end in the formally advanced way I mentioned above: he jumps from one idea to another with no apparent attention given to continuity, with a kind of energetic randomness lost in most Pop music and markedly different from much of Weezer’s pre-White Album lyrics—but it fits perfectly with their Geek Rock aesthetic.
Unfortunately, Cuomo’s best attempt at this kind of lyric writing came on last year’s “Thank God For Girls”, and nothing on Pacific Daydream comes close to beating that song, or many songs in Weezer’s catalogue. Painfully forgettable tracks like “Sweet Mary” and “Get Right” rank as some of the worst all-time Weezer songs, and even album highlight “Happy Hour” starts to hurt if you listen to the lyrics (you don’t have to work in contrived Monty Python and Ponce De Leon references to be an interesting Geek Rocker). The song’s Lounge-y piano and relaxed beat are strong and unlike anything Weezer has done before—but in a song called “Happy Hour” it comes off as trite or at least corny.
The album closer “Any Friend of Diane’s” takes a shot at actually incorporating other band members—you can actually hear Patrick Wilson playing drums on that track, and oh wow, there are a couple of Brian Bell’s Pop-Punk-y guitar licks. But even with the aid of live instrumentation, the song is at best a soporific.
In short, Pacific Daydream is the worst Weezer album I’ve ever had to sit through. I wouldn’t recommend it to longtime, hardcore Weezer fans or fair-weather Pop listeners. Even at a mercifully short length, each of its 34 minutes 32 seconds are hard to bear. And this is coming from a white boy who grew up in the ‘90s—I was born to like Weezer, but this album makes me wonder why these guys still make music. The only effect is to tarnish the reputation of their positive (though poorly aging) early output. In fact, my final recommendation is: if you happen to pick up a copy of Pacific Daydream, go home, throw it in the trash, and listen to The Blue Album or Pinkerton instead.