Here’s a challenge for you, reader: immerse yourself in a Weezer fan community and see how long it takes you to find a group of people arguing vehemently about which of the band’s first two albums is the superior Weezer release.
Indeed, in a debate as old as most Weezer fans, the argument as to whether the band’s self-titled debut album is better than the band’s sophomore effort ‘Pinkerton’ and vice versa is commonplace in any Weezer forum. People will spend hours, days and even weeks arguing their cause – hell, they probably spend more time arguing than Weezer themselves spent creating any album they released in the 2000s.
Weezer has had a fairly strange career. They released their eponymous, Ric Ocasek-produced debut studio album in 1994 to enormous commercial success. Known nowadays as the Blue album (you know, to set it apart from the other five self-titled albums in the band’s discography), shot Weezer into fame. In 1997, the band released their second studio album ‘Pinkerton’ to, at the time, universal rejection from critics – since then, the album has gone on to be considered an all-time great in Weezer‘s discography through retroactive reviews.
With that information presented to you, you might begin to understand why the debate rages on so strongly. However, I’m here to burst the bubble and inform you that neither of Weezer‘s first two albums is the best Weezer album. That commendation belongs to their 2016 self-titled 10th studio album, colour-coded this time as the White album.
The White album came out when Weezer was on something of a career renaissance during the 2010s. Rivers Cuomo & Co had put out a slew of unremarkable albums throughout the 2000s, inspired by ‘Pinkerton”s commercial failure and Rivers Cuomo’s desire to write mostly insincere, meaningless, money-grabbing pop-rock that wouldn’t fail and break his spirit in the way ‘Pinkerton’ did.
In 2014, the band released their ninth studio album ‘Everything Will Be Alright in the End’; an album many consider to be the band’s first great album in a long while. The lead single from ‘Everything Will Be Alright’, ‘Back To the Shack’, featured lyrics that saw Cuomo admit to his fuck ups in abandoning what made Weezer incredible in their early career, as well as turning his back on the fans who had been with the band since the beginning. The album featured great music, experimental songwriting (a conceptual banger about the American revolution?!) and Ric Ocasek’s final term as Weezer producer before his death in 2019. Things looked promising unless you were looking for another Cars reunion.
Weezer followed up ‘Everything Will Be Alright’ with the White album. An album that is so immaculately spectacular, it will probably serve as Weezer‘s peak. As great as ‘OK Human’ was (I gave it an 8/10 for Clash, FYI) it doesn’t hold a candle to the White album, and it’s very unlikely that at this stage in Weezer‘s career anything will again.
For my money, the White album is everything you could want from a Weezer album. It’s fun and upbeat in the way the Blue album was, it has moments of gloomy moodiness, introspective lyricism and heavy instrumentation à la ‘Pinkerton’ and beautifully rich and luscious melodies and harmonies that might not feel too out of place on a Beach Boys track. Even the slightly weaker songs on the album are excellent, and make the case that music doesn’t always have to have a deep meaning. The opening track, ‘California Kids’, is just a song about how great California is. I’ve never been to California, I have no fucking idea of the benefits of living in or visiting California, but I do know a great pop-rock song when I hear one. Oppositely, the album’s lead single, ‘Thank God For Girls’, is a brooding, heavy song which continues Rivers Cuomo’s storied love-hate relationship with females. ‘L.A. Girlz’ – which was actually initially written by guitarist Brian Bell – is probably Weezer‘s most melodically beautiful rock anthem. Production on this album was masterfully handled by industry titan Jake Sinclair, who also went on to produce the band’s latest album ‘OK Human’, which received similar praise for its production.
The White album is Weezer‘s best album. It isn’t even a competition. It’s everything you could want from a Weezer album. It blends what was great about the bands first two albums and produces something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s very likely the last 10/10 album the band will produce, and if that’s the case, at least we were lucky enough to get something this incredibly from a band who are in their increasingly erratic final act.
PS: The Blue album is better than ‘Pinkerton’. Sorry, not sorry.