In late 2019, Weezer announced their Hella Mega Tour that would include Green Day and Fall Out Boy alongside them in stadiums worldwide to rock out. Along with that was the announcement of their next album, “Van Weezer.” An ode to the late, great Eddie Van Halen, it would be a full-on rock album calling back to the 1980s rock and metal era. Unfortunately, the album was delayed almost an entire year due to COVID-19, and on May 7, the album is finally out with surprisingly solid results.
The album kicks off with a bang with the song “Hero,” which hits you right off the bat with a beautiful electric guitar riff that sonically returns to the guitar tones of their debut album known as the “Blue Album.” The lyrics evoke that classic loner suffering from the theme of heartbreak prevalent in classic rock songs. Rivers Cuomo sings, “You know, I tried to be a hero, but I was lying to myself / I walk alone.” It is a catchy opener, but catchy is something Weezer pulls off with ease. Another earworm is “Beginning of the End.” It begins with sirens and glitchy sound effects before going into a grungy chord progression and a cool lead guitar riff. The guitar solo features pretty electric guitar harmonies using octaves and finger-tapping.
The electric guitar work is definitely one of the highlights of the album. “The End of the Game” features a face-melting guitar intro with thumping power chords. “All the Good Ones” resembles a famous song of theirs, “Beverly Hills,” but is so much better than that overplayed track. Peppered throughout the song are Van Halen-esque licks with luscious guitar harmonies. There is a call and response in the hook as well, with Cuomo singing, “All the good ones are gone / Where did you come from,” which is hard not to sing along to. One of the best songs showcasing the guitar-playing and production is “One More Hit.” The verse feels like a classic 1980s metal song with the hook being more in Weezer’s wheelhouse. The solo features multiple changes and never fails to excite, ending in a key change to the chorus to cap it off.
“Van Weezer” only has 10 songs, and a few do not stand out sonically, but still contain strong lyrics. Cuomo’s songwriting always comes off as relatable and sometimes quirky, like “Sometimes she hands me a jar of Jif / And I feel good when I open it” from “She Needs Me.” “Sheila Can Do It” is not particularly memorable and the lyrics can get quite repetitive, but it still is quite enjoyable because of the energy Cuomo gives off in his singing. Even the songs that are lesser have something good in them to go back to. The one song that is not worth returning to though is “Blue Dream,” which uses an interpolation of the riff from “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. The use of the riff hurts more than it adds to the song and is too distracting. Overall, the song should have been cut.
The album is paced perfectly with a lot of heavy rock songs and a rare moment of boredom. It ends on a light note with “Precious Metal Girl,” which is the only ballad on the album but fits thematically with the record. It is a great love song that is similar to the closer on Weezer’s best album “Pinkerton.”
Weezer is a band with a prolific career spanning 15 studio albums, including “Van Weezer.” Compared to the pop approach of their recent projects, such as “Pacific Daydream” and “Black Album,” which received a mixed response, this one reaches back to their roots as well as the stadium rock of the ’80s. Besides one song, every song ranges from decent to amazing, which is a worthy complement for Weezer. Echoing artists like KISS, Black Sabbath and Metallica, Weezer has made a very refreshing album late in the game within their sometimes-repetitive discography.