05. Weezer (The Green Album) (2001)
Where as Weezer’s first two records are deceptively simple, The Green Album is just simple. Nearly every song goes verse, chorus, verse, guitar solo (usually the same notes as the lead vocal line), chorus, last verse. And that’s what’s great about it. It’s, for lack of a better word, a relatively happy record. It’s a stable record. And in 2001, it was nice to see Rivers Cuomo happier and more stable than where we last left him. There’s some romantic pining, sure, but it’s as straightforward as a title like “O Girlfriend” would suggest, a far cry from the self-loathing and maternal issues of “Across the Sea”. Historically, the album does take on a tinge of darkness with the subsequent mental breakdown and drug overdose of bassist Mikey Welsh — he only played on this, the band’s sunniest record — but that doesn’t take away from the delightful surprise element of The Green Album when it was released. Weezer sounded as catchy as ever, yet uncomplicated as never, something not a lot of people expected after their three-year radio silence. –Dan Caffrey
04. Everything Will Be Alright In The End (2014)
It’s no coincidence that Weezer’s longest-labored-upon album in over 13 years ended up being their best of that timespan. Everything Will Be Alright in the End is no magnum opus, but still feels huge because it involves a subtle breakthrough: it sounds like Weezer’s first-ever album that doesn’t try to be the most anything. Not the poppiest, not the most punk, not the most pop-punk, and not even the funniest — even if “Back to the Shack” is the third funniest thing the band has ever done behind the “Pork and Beans” video and this. Rather, Cuomo hunkers down and takes legitimate measures towards creating something with a chance at some real shelf life, like reuniting with an old producer in Ric Ocasek, making room for collaboration with some of this decade’s top Weezer disciples (Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast and Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus), or even recycling an occasional trusty, signature dopey rhyme like “dance/take a chance.” –Steven Arroyo
03. Maladroit (2002)
As if to prove they still had some issues to sort out as human beings, Weezer followed up their simplest LP with their strangest — in just a little over a year, no less. It’s fascinating to think that when Rivers Cuomo was writing about escaping to an island in the sun with his girl, he was probably also getting lost in space rock, encountering gigolos, and fantasizing about Gothic architecture. The instrumentation on Maladroit is unpredictable as well, while never losing the band’s unshakable hook-writing abilities — “Death and Destruction” constantly starts and stops, “Possibilities” is pure off-tempo punk, and “Keep Fishin'” looks and sounds like a Muppet. Actually, in revisiting this and The Green Album, I’m reminded that “Hashpipe” is indeed about a transsexual prostitute, meaning that Weezer possibly wrote two songs about hookers in 365 days. Maybe they never lost their strangeness in the first place. –Dan Caffrey
02. Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994)
In his Producer’s Chair column, Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman said that “in an alternate universe, Weezer followed Pavement’s route instead of Green Day’s,” but I reluctantly disagree. I don’t think there is any world in which Weezer could possibly keep up the fresh air they breathed into alternative rock radio when they first emerged for more than two albums at most, and I don’t think that’s by any fault of their own. Weezer 1.0 were always as good as their highest praises claimed; they simply had a great idea that wasn’t a sustainable one, unlike Stephen Malkmus’ confine-less canvas of the entire English dictionary crossed with every noise a guitar can make. The tragedy of the post-2000 Weezer 2.0, if any, is that it meant they never got due credit for striking twice – instead, they had “only two” great albums.
This idea, born alongside D&D paraphernalia in the garage of a Harvard student, was too perfectly of-its-moment to not die hard. It argued that no chords belong only to men with hobbies involving needles or band names that are double-entendres for semen. What if some dudes came out champing KISS instead of Daniel Johnston, bowl cuts instead of facial hair, four chords instead of 14, tortured by their own beta-male frustrations instead of their own genius — and what if their songs still out-shredded, out-hooked, and out-wide-screened the rest of the music video block sans pretense? This idea was The Blue Album, a totally necessary anti-alt statement by way of being a non-statement, even if it led to the wrong expectations for Weezer, the band, and not enough respect for Weezer, the scripture. –Steven Arroyo
01. Pinkerton (1996)
The first time I heard a song from Pinkerton was in a middle school drama class. We had to perform a lip-sync with some kind of story, and another kid who was a little bit older than me chose “The Good Life”, hobbling onto the stage as an old man, then straightening his spine and throwing off his cardigan once the chorus exploded. By the end, he was young again and gleefully dancing with a female student. Besides thinking this was a completely accurate depiction of the song’s lyrics and a pretty good idea for a teenager, I was taken by how goddamn poppy and muscular the song was. I had only heard a couple tracks from The Blue Album, so I assumed “The Good Life” was from that same CD (the only Weezer record I was aware of at the time). I saved up for a couple weeks, then bought it at Circuit City.
As much as I eventually ended up loving The Blue Album, I was pretty pissed off to see “The Good Life” was nowhere to be found. I thought it might be a hidden track, but alas, nothing. I was in for a similar surprise when I scrounged up enough cash to buy Pinkerton a few months later over spring break, expecting to find 10 perfectly punchy pop rock gems like “The Good Life” but instead finding lots of fuzz, sadness, and women issues. Of course, we all know that that’s what makes Weezer great, these kind of contradictions. I’m not the first person to say that, and I certainly won’t be the last. But are they really contradictions at all? We all have our quirks, our kinks, our days of sad-bastard strumming and others of exuberant guitar solos. Pinkerton was the first album that showed me even pop music could be simultaneously deep and silly, just like life. Yeah, I know that’s corny. But humans are corny, too. —Dan Caffrey
Buy: Pick up copies of all of Weezer’s albums from Reverb LP.