Forsgren: When your favorite band stops sounding like your favorite band
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Oct. 27, 2017. It’s a date that will forever be etched into the walls of my memory. A day of much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. A day that will live forever in infamy.
Maybe I’m going a few miles over the top, but that’s when Weezer released their latest album — and it’s a date that will be seared into my brain forever.
It’s when my favorite band stopped sounding like my favorite band.
“Pacific Daydream,” the record in question, sees Weezer embark on a new musical direction. The band drops their trademark crunchy guitars for a more pop-friendly sound. The guitars chime and chirp, but they rarely roar. The first half of “Daydream” is composed mostly mid-paced, beat-heavy tracks, with the back half dominated by acoustic guitar-based jams.
Don’t get me wrong. “Daydream” starts off in classic Weezer style. “Mexican Fender” sports loud guitars aping the riff from “Love Stinks”, a very Weezer melody and a soaring chorus. After that, though, the big guitars disappear and don’t really turn up again until the end of “Sweet Mary.” Then they go back into hiding.
It’s not that there’s nothing to like on “Daydream.” “Beach Boys” is a beautiful, infectious concoction, full of sing-along melodies and nostalgia. Rivers Cuomo’s ability to craft melodies is as sharp as ever, although his lyrics are getting more wonky and obtuse. Drummer Patrick Wilson gives some really strong performances, his steady beat giving the songs a tangible pulse. And bassist Scott Shriner is on fire, his bass lines often the best things these songs have to offer.
All that stuff is fine, but I fell in love with this band because they played guitars really loud and wrote lyrics about nerdy subject matter to which I could relate. And “Daydream” seems like an effort to court the mainstream pop audience. I should have seen this coming, as several songs on Weezer’s last albums hinted they were headed in this direction.
Still, it took some time to process what I heard. I went through a familiar progression on the way to my current state of mind.
DENIAL: “This isn’t Weezer. I mean it kinda sounds like Weezer, but it can’t be Weezer without the guitars. Even on their bad records, Weezer still cranked up the guitars.”
ANGER: “How dare Rivers foist this … this … THIS!! Didn’t they learn their lesson from the last time they tried to court the mainstream pop audience? I hope nobody buys this record and Rivers has to be a greeter at a big box store!”
BARGAINING: “Dear Heavenly Father, if I go back to church, will you give me back the rocking version of Weezer I love so much?”
DEPRESSION: “I guess it’s over. Weezer isn’t Weezer anymore. Life isn’t worth living. I’ll just go step in front of a speeding bus.”
ACCEPTANCE: “I guess this is what Weezer sounds like now. They’ve given me so much joy that I hope this record can connect with an audience. And it’s not the end of the world. I can still listen to Amon Amarth. At least until they stop playing metal and start sounding like Imagine Dragons.”
“Pacific Daydream” may not sound like classic Weezer, but it’s an interesting record nonetheless. If this is where Weezer wants to go musically, I will wish them success and hope someone will appreciate their new music as much as I appreciate their old stuff. It’s not the end of the world. After all, I’ll always have “Pinkerton.”