Weezer have always been a band that divides opinion. From moustaches and ten gallon hats to round the world cruises, they’ve never been a band to do things by the book. Each time a new album comes out, there seems to be a buzz about it being a ‘return to form’, with ‘form’ being the brilliant ‘Blue Album’, ‘Pinkerton’ or, at a push, the ‘Green Album’. Whilst the latter two do hold up as great albums, (especially Pinkerton, ‘Tired of Sex’, anyone?) it’s Weezer’s first effort, 1994’s ‘Blue Album’ that still holds a special place in every Weezer fan’s heart. If you haven’t heard it, here’s why you should give it a spin. If you have heard it, here’s why you should stick in on right now.
1. They sang about Superheroes before it was cool.
These days, everyone from Eminem to Alkaline Trio are dropping superhero references into their lyrics. Hollywood are to blame, I tell ya. Rivers Cumo, however, was somewhat of a trendsetter. In geek-anthem ‘In the Garage’ Cumo sings,
‘I've got the Dungeon Master's Guide/
I've got a 12-sided die/
I've got Kitty Pryde/
And Nightcrawler too/
Waiting there for me/
Yes I do, I do/’
It’s a fantastic ode to Geekery and unashamedly pursuing what you enjoy. Who gives a fuck about anything else when you’re holed up in your garage with Dungeons and Dragons and X-men comics?
2. The first 2 seconds of ‘Holiday’.
That first little intro riff bursts with energy, excitement and happiness. Weezer are brilliant at little superfluities like this, and they make the album shine with a vibrancy that still resonates almost a decade later.
3. The lyrics to ‘My Name Is Jonas’.
It might just be me, but I don’t really have a fucking clue what Cumo’s singing about here. Choo choo trains and builders? It’s also quite possibly the only song to make people scream about drinking tea made by their grandma. God bless.
4. The unashamed insecurity of it all.
‘Say it ain’t so’ is a song which kicks a thousand types of arse, but at the base of it all is one man’s insecurity. ‘Somebody’s heiney is crowding my icebox/somebody’s cold one, is giving me chills/guess I’ll just close my eyes.’ These fantastically understated verses erupt into one of the most powerful choruses to feature on any Weezer song, and it works fantastically.
5. The little trill in the first verse of ‘Buddy Holly’.
Again, this is one of those superfluities that elevate the album to the next level. It adds a new level of mystique to the verse, just who are these homies, and why are they fronting? Something’s brewing, and by the time we get to the ‘bang bang, knocking on the door’ middle eight, we feel like we’ve been expecting this violent outburst from the beginning. There’s really no need for that ‘de-du-du-du-du’ down on the 14th fret, but Cumo sticks it in and you instantly think ‘fuck, that’s cool.’
6. 'Surf Wax America'.
Fuck you, I’m going surfing. It’s brilliant, poignant, and exactly how we should all be living our lives.
7. The ‘slow burn factor’.
‘Say it ain’t so’ and ‘Only in Dreams’ both start off with beautiful little riffs, low tempo vocals and a simmering undercurrent of what’s to come. Eventually, they transform into two of the hardest rocking songs Weezer have ever made.
8. The last 3.10 minutes of ‘Only in Dreams’.
Following on from the last point, there’s really no need for ‘Only in Dreams’ to exceed the 4.48 mark, but it does, and what comes next is a ferocious whirlwind of octaves and solos. On a first listen, it might seem like this part of the song is needlessly stretched out, but it’s not, it’s one of the best moments in any song. Ever. No wonder Q Magazine rated the song no.8 in its list of ‘20 Greatest Guitar Tracks’.
9. River’s hairdo in the ‘Undone: The Sweater Song’ video.
10. Showing how stupid misogyny is.
Being a misogynist is a mug's game, and the lyrics to ‘No One Else’ Cumo points out just how stupid controlling boyfriends (or girlfriends, for that matter) can be. ‘My girl's got a big mouth/ with which she babbles a lot.’ Indeed.
11. The un-released b-sides.
Rivers and co recorded 15 songs for the Blue Album, but unfortunately only 10 made the final cut. These five unreleased songs: ‘Lullaby for Wayne’, ‘I Swear it’s True’, ‘Getting up and Leaving’, another version of ‘In the Garage’ and ‘Mykel and Carli’ can all be found on YouTube, and ‘Mykel and Carli’ was released as a b-side to ‘Undone’.
12. A song where whole verses are muttering and background noises.
‘Undone: The Sweater Song’ is a piece of genius. A brilliant ode to not fitting in, it features choruses about defiant sweater wearing, and verses full of overheard and uninteresting conversations. If you’ve ever found yourself in a room full of people you detest, this is the song for you.
13. The video to Buddy Holly.
Weezer and The Fonz in the same video? Happy days...
14. Rivers being a massive dweeb in the ‘Say it ain’t so video’
That haircut, that shirt, that goofy expression: none of it scream ‘rockstar’ and this is exactly how Rivers wants it.
15. It’s an incredibly lonely album
‘The World has turned and left me here’ is a song about the end of a relationship. ‘Only in Dreams’ in hopelessly hopeless. ‘My Name is Jonas’ recalls distant childhood memories. ‘Say it ain’t so’ features an awesome middle 8 with lyrics about writing to a distant, alcoholic, father. ‘In the Garage’ is about hiding out, and ‘Undone...’ is about the comfort offered from a favourite piece of clothing. Most rock albums feature scars and insecurities, but these lyrics are often hidden away amongst ballsy choruses and ‘look-at-me’ solos. Weezer have the choruses and solos, but it’s all there to support the lyrics and push Cumo’s feelings to the forefront of the record. It’s a coming out of the closet of nervousness, with a guitar strapped around your chest sort of album, and it’s amazing.
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