Go figure. All we hear about from Weezer is how their label is screwing them over and how they’re releasing crappy records to stick it to the man. Then they *finally* switch labels and we get the post-modern pile of trash that was Hurley and easily one of Rivers Cuomo’s worst efforts (even including his ho-hum solo recordings and b-sides). AND NOW, on their old label, they release a compilation of tracks that didn’t make the cut on their other, less-inspiring albums, and guess what? They’re actually pretty good! What sort of bizarro world is Weezer in right now?
For all practical purposes, this is exactly what Hurley should have been. The title, Death To False Metal, is old-school Weezer tongue-in-cheek geek humor. The artwork takes it a step further with the communal garden and the burst of light coming from some stereotypical heaven. The songs are tighter, rock harder; the lyrics don’t smack quite as much of emo amateur hour. Essentially, these are musical castaways from the more mainstream, sold-out versions of Weezer, a mini-allegory of the band we fell in love with a decade and a half ago, so in a weird-ass way, it kind of makes sense that they would be better. Does the band know this? Are we supposed to be learning some kind of lesson here?
I mean, there are no sweater songs or “Beverly Hills” in this collection, that Weezer is probably lost and gone forever, but when the album begins, accelerating forward with roaring guitars and Rivers giving shout-outs (is he saying “crunchy?”) before the song kicks into its first verse, it sure feels a lot like the old Weezer. The anthematic chorus, with a heavy dose of punk attitude, “we don’t care what you say/we’re turnin’ up the radio,” also feels curiously-infused with the power of the 90’s. Or, to be more accurate, power of the 00’s. (It’s more Green album Weezer than Blue album Weezer.)
This is the real joy of Weezer’s old music; it was never high-brow artistic lyrics or impossible, face-melting guitar breaks, rather a soundtrack for all the youthful indiscretions and the roller coaster ride of good times and drama that would consequentially ensue. Somehow, …False Metal has managed to bring it back. Cuts like “Blowin’ My Stack” and “Turning Up The Radio” couldn’t be more fun. “I Don’t Want Your Loving” and “Losing My Mind” avoid awkward recollections about the old days while bringing in the old thematic materials of jilted relationships and personal angst. The rest of the songs coast in-between a revivalist surf-punk-pop rock sound of old (“Everyone”), and Weezer’s newer, more experimental and disjointed, but in this case salvageable with a hint of doo-wop, sound (“I’m A Robot”).
It has to be sad for all the old fans to see stories on the internet like the guy on the west coast who attempted to raise ten million dollars to get Weezer to break up. It might be foolish to ever expect another Pinkerton again, but …False Metal has proven it’s not foolish to think we might see another Make Believe or Green album. In a sort-of prodigal son kind-of-way, Weezer needed to branch out. It seems, while their music wasn’t in the right place, their hearts were. …False Metal isn’t a great record, but it’s proof of life, and a hopeful one.