Iconic Los Angeles-based rock quartet Weezer has been making music since 1992, and the band recently released its 11th studio album, “Pacific Daydream,” Oct. 27. Coming only 18 months after the band’s last record, which is self-titled but also known as the “White Album,” “Pacific Daydream” is an intriguing follow-up that takes the band in directions it’s never gone before.
The lead single from the album, “Feels Like Summer,” was released March 16. The reaction was mixed for obvious reasons — the song is a cliche pop ballad, complete with electronic synthesizers, basic melodies and repetitive, vapid lyrics that pale in comparison to songs Weezer has written in the past, such as “Thank God for Girls” and “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)”. Still, it certainly gives off a summer vibe and makes listeners want to hop in a convertible and drive along the California coast on a warm July night.
The album opens with the much more Weezer-esque “Mexican Fender,” which features a tragic summer love story and a basic, but catchy, guitar riff. While the chorus’ lyrics are repetitive and the melody isn’t particularly interesting, it certainly sounds more like Weezer than some of the other songs on the album.
One song from “Pacific Daydream” that sounds slightly more like Weezer, but probably shouldn’t have even been recorded, is the second track, “Beach Boys.” While it still reminds listeners of sunny days like many of the songs on the record’s first half, the melody is irritating, the instrumentals are wispy and weak and the lyrics are more meaningless than anything Weezer has written before. The song’s likely meant to be a pleasant nostalgia trip, but the only nostalgia it inspires is memories of life before you heard the song.
“Pacific Daydream” seems to have some recurring themes that lead singer and songwriter Rivers Cuomo, 47, probably didn’t intend to create. All 10 tracks on the record have noticeably repetitive moments, both musically and lyrically. There are a few gems that remind listeners who they’re listening to — for instance, the line “I can’t get anyone to do algebra with me” in “QB Blitz” and some of Cuomo’s poetic laments about interesting women, especially in “Weekend Woman” — but a lot of the lyrics are surprisingly forgettable.
Cuomo’s familiar vocals are the constant factor making each song worth listening to. He reaches the high and low ends of his range throughout the album, and it’s a pleasant surprise. He sounds monotone in some songs, such as “Weekend Woman” and “Happy Hour,” but overall it’s impressive that a voice that’s been singing in the business for 25 years still sounds so clear and powerful.
One song on “Pacific Daydream” outshines the rest lyrically, musically and vocally: “Get Right.” The guitar riff in the beginning sounds vaguely like something off Weezer’s self-titled first album, known as “The Blue Album” (1992), and Cuomo’s voice is emotional, needy and almost chilling throughout the song. It has the most interesting and enjoyable melody on the album, inspiring compulsive foot tapping and head nodding. The fade-out at the end of the song makes it seem like the ideal choice to end the album, but it’s only track eight of 10.
Weezer clearly tried something different with its 11th album, and it resulted in a slightly disjointed record that sounds like a combination of singles put together. Bands have to grow and change their styles to remain relevant, but a group like Weezer trying out EDM isn’t necessary. “Pacific Daydream” proves Weezer can remain current, but there aren’t enough stunning moments on the album to make it as iconic as the band itself.
“Pacific Daydream” is available to stream and purchase on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.