4.5 Globes out of 5
Being a Weezer fan is an interesting existence, especially when they’re your favorite band. They released two perfect albums in the 90s (“The Blue Album” and “Pinkerton”) but have fluctuated massively in quality since the early 2000s. Occasionally, they’ll release something good (2014’s “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” echoed back to the 90s sound mixed with modern alt-rock) and even, very rarely, hit the nail on the head perfectly. (2016’s “White Album” mixed alt-rock, pop-punk, and the sounds of the Beach Boys to create something wholly unique and outstanding.). But most of the time, their releases come out sub-par (2009’s “Raditude” featured a rap verse from Lil’ Wayne).
Luckily for Weezer fans, myself included, the band’s latest release, “OK Human,” is a triumph in experimentation. The album was recorded entirely in analogue, meaning no electronics were used in the process. The album features no electric guitars but does boast a full orchestra.
The decision to use a full orchestra and record entirely analogue makes the album feel very unique, but it still feels like a traditional Weezer release. In terms of chord progressions and instrumentation, the songwriting echoes back to 2016’s “The White Album.” This makes sense, seeing as Jake Sinclair produced both “The White Album” and “OK Human.” Hopefully, Weezer continues to record with him because he seems to have a deep understanding of what sounds the band can and should pursue.
Continuing on with the instrumentation, drummer Patrick Wilson’s contribution is one of the most important parts of the album, and he deserves a major hand. While a subtler influence, his ability to blend a percussive orchestral style with the traditional pop-punk off-brand emo style of Weezer is nothing short of incredible. If the percussion on this album were off, even slightly, the entire album would not work at all.,
The album suffers lyrically at some points. Cuomo’s songwriting has often had cheesy lyrics, but the juxtaposition of them against a full orchestra on this album makes them stand out more than they would on a more traditional release. At the same time, some of the other lyrics on the album are some of the strongest on a Weezer release in a long time, which unfortunately makes the weaker lines stick out more.
The album succeeds lyrically by hammering home its main themes: that we’ve grown disconnected as a society, relying too much on technology to occupy our time. Sometimes that message comes across as a bit more “you kids spend too much time on your phones,” but at the same time, Cuomo is making a valid point about where we are. Its themes of escapism, loss and technology blend well with the album’s orchestration.
For the most part, the album flows together very well. “Playing My Piano” flows into “Mirror Image” that I thought they were the same song. Other times, the tracks feel disconnected from one another. Ultimately though, the mild flow issues between tracks are hardly noticeable.
My biggest issue with this album is the closing track, “La Brea Tar Pits.” That’s not to say that the song is bad. It’s actually great; but it doesn’t work as a closing track. Weezer has always had stand-out closing tracks. “The Blue Album” featured an eight-minute Bohemian Rhapsody-esque track, “Only In Dreams.” “Pinkerton” featured “Butterfly,” an emotional acoustic song, unlike anything the band had ever recorded before. Even the modern albums have featured strong closings, notably “The White Albums’” “Endless Bummer,” but even a weaker release, “The Black Album,” closed strongly with “California Snow,” which feels very much like a closer. “La Brea Tar Pits” is a great song, but it feels a bit like the album just ends abruptly with it.
The thing about Weezer is that they never make the album that their fans want them to make;, they make the album that they want to make, and that’s something that should be celebrated. Very few rock bands at their level of fame are willing to experiment, especially so frequently. Overall, I would recommend “OK Human” and say that it is one of the stronger releases from the band.