On October 27, 2017, alternative / indie sweethearts Weezer released their 11th studio album, Pacific Daydream. The album is breezy, carefree, and lacks the loveable elements of their previous work.
Weezer has been pretty consistent in releasing a new album every few years. This has given them plenty opportunity to produce popular hits such as “Pork and Beans” off their 2008 Red Album, or “Beverly Hills” off their 2005 album Make Believe. Both these songs were nominated for Grammys (“Pork and Beans” won best music video). However, Weezer has since been unable to produce a song as popular as either single.
The Los Angeles rock band released their fourth self-titled album, otherwise known as the White Album, in 2016. The record felt similar enough to Weezer’s previous work, and was a big hit with long-time fans. The catchy guitar riffs and lyrics we all know and love were present, but there were differences in the little things. The subtle style changes within the album made it clear that the band was ready to graduate from their old sound into something new. The White Album unfortunately did not produce any huge hit singles, but it led fans to believe that Weezer was building up to something exciting and different.
This is not the change fans were expecting.
Pacific Daydream is an echo of Weezer’s past alternative rock style, and a drastic departure from what has made them excel in previous years. They seem to have played it safe, and generated a more mainstream pop sound, perhaps in hopes of producing a more popular record. Weezer is no stranger to the pop genre, as has been demonstrated in their early albums, but this album is an entirely different story. A major issue is that the lyrics speak more about parties and beaches than relatable tales about underdogs and outcasts. Such relatable themes have been the basis of their identity as a group, and was what drew in such a dedicated fan base. Also, the album is certainly over-produced, which results in an artificial, polished sound. This quells any promise any of the tracks may have had.
Abandoning the style that made them successful and not producing work of any substance to take its place is a move that may cost Weezer. It is, of course, the right and freedom of every artist to expand on sound ideas, and re-invent themselves depending on their current persona and interests. But Weezer has strayed too far from what made them great, and have become something different entirely.
There are some elements that work well within the album. For instance, despite the overall theme of partying and summer fever, there was still some room for Weezer to insert some of their lovable geeky charm into the lyric writing. References to algebra and the Star Wars planet “Hoth” can be found on the track “QB Blitz.” Also, despite the fact that the tracks flow together nicely, there is undoubtedly a correlation between the smooth transitions and forgettable tracks.
Pacific Daydream is, overall, not a terrible album — it’s just a terrible Weezer album. Fans know Weezer is capable of producing much better work. There is definitely something in this record for everyone. Fans of Weezer’s pop roots will no doubt find something to like. However, very few songs on the album are worth listening to more than once. If Weezer’s goal with this album was to secure another spot on the top of the charts, they have definitely missed their mark.