Being a fan of Weezer is a funny thing. Admitting it to others is generally met with looks of derision, even after you feverishly explain that you (of course) only like the group’s pre-2000s output. Hell, admitting it to one’s self can be tricky, causing all manner of self-doubt and shame.
When fans meet other fans, they don’t speak about the music enthusiastically, as they may have fifteen years ago. Instead, we admit this to each other with a sense of resignation. “Yes,” we say. “I love Weezer. I love Weezer and I am long past being able to help it.”
Although many of us have given up on the group in the course of the last twenty years or so, there are still those among us who partake in a strange ritual. When a new Weezer album is released, we will unfailingly seek it out in the hopes that it might demonstrate that the band has recaptured some glimmer of what had made their first recordings so impactful. It is a cycle of disappointment and shame that may never be broken.
As time has worn on, I’ve realized that I’m a huge softy for any band that manages to sound even remotely like old Weezer. I’ll hear a song, recognize the authentic Weezishness within it, and instantly grab the album and listen to it for weeks. It has happened so often, and for so many years, that I have developed a theory.
Weezer isn’t a band at all. Weezer is a style of music. And while the band Weezer hasn’t been a Weezer band in years, there is still approximately one good Weezer song released each and every year. You’ll have to follow me on this.
A Weezer song is generally performed best by younger people. Weezer were younger people when they made Weezer music, and now that they are old men, they are unable to properly write Weezer music. This is not a rule without exceptions, but it should be taken as a general guideline.
A Weezer song should be in the arena of alt-pop guitar rock, and should heavily feature both wry lyricism and intricate harmonies. A Weezer song need not include a male lead singer, as one of the greatest early Weezer songs featured Rachel Haden on lead vocals and is an unimpeachable example of good Weezer.
A Weezer song can lean heavily on the side of the Blue Album‘s brand of punked-up classic pop, or it may be more along the lines of Pinkerton‘s more complex dark quirkiness. A Weezer song cannot sound like Weezer’s Green Album, as the Green Album is not a Weezer album.
Above all, a Weezer song must inspire both a joyful feeling and a wistful feeling in the listener, prompting them to think “man, this is some good Weezer” while also thinking “…why doesn’t real Weezer sound like this Weezer that I’m listening to?”
Realizing all of this, I’m starting to feel way better about Weezer. Young people are going to continue to be young, and a certain segment of them are going to continue to write Weezer songs. As I’ve said, the songs have continued to arrive with a frequency of about one per year, although there have been some dark years that have contained no Weezer songs at all.
In order to bolster my theory, it is my pleasure to present to you a list of some of the best Weezer songs from the last 15 years. There seem to be more of them than ever recently, and I believe that it has something to do with young people liking anything that they were conceived to.
Charly Bliss – Ruby (2016)
Charly Bliss released a great record with last year’s Guppy, and they’re a fine modern alt-pop band in their own right. It’s difficult to deny the Blue Album-era Weezer vibes of “Ruby”, as it marks off all of the right poppy and propulsive check boxes. See also: Guppy’s “Westermarck”, which has a chorus hook as big as a whale.
Ozma – No One Needs To Know (2007)
The inclusion of Ozma on this list is a little bit on the nose, because they sound so much like Weezer it’s kind of sickening and shameless. Like, I don’t actually know how they’ve gotten away with it. A handful of tracks on 2007’s Pasadena manage to hit the right mix of playfulness, catchiness and cleverness to warrant mention on this list, “No One Needs To Know” being the best of the lot.
Pup – Guilt Trip (2014)
PUP have carved out their own reputation by now, but when their self-titled album dropped with “Guilt Trip” acting as lead-in track, my immediate thought were “This sounds like drunk Pinkerton”. And it does. It’s kind of glorious, and they’ve yet to release anything that I like nearly as much. This is an absolutely glorious Weezer song.
Jeff Rosenstock – Novelty Sweater (2015)
If you’ve been wondering what a Pinkerton-era Weezer might have done with modern chiptune sounds, look no further than this Jeff Rosenstock track, which is irreverent and fun enough in its own right to not sound like an absolute clone of its source influences.
Great Grandpa – Teen Challenge (2017)
These lil’ buddies manage to crank out a pretty decent Weezer song here, which includes both a Blue Album chorus and a Pinkerton freak-out bridge. Young people are the future.
Weezer – L.A. Girlz (2016)
Against all odds, Weezer themselves managed to release potentially the best Weezer song of 2016. It sounds like an outake from the period between their debut and Pinkerton, and it is essentially a perfect Weezer song. It was enough to get my hopes up and then break my heart all over again when Pacific Daydream came out this year and wound up being possibly the worst album that (the band) Weezer ever released. Goddamn it, Weezer.
Pixies – Velouria
Weezer covered this song, and the Pixies version of “Velouria” is one of the best Weezer songs. This is pretty confusing, as it was written and released before Weezer debuted as a band, meaning that the Pixies actually originated the style that I have come to designate “a Weezer”. Hang on, this is going off of the rails a little bit. Maybe I just really like the Pixies and I hate Weezer.
I have to rethink this whole thing. I’ll get back to you.