Van Weezer Cuomo
12 May 2021-
Forget the play on words based on a play on words: but that is kind of what Van Weezer is like, a very well crafted homage to sounds of the past... and future?
When all is said and one, we will have to recognize the fact that the Covid pandemic had perhaps one upside: so many artists were left stranded at home writing songs instead of touring… And that means that 2021 is consequently getting flooded with top rate new material in absolutely all genres, from rappers dropping new tracks every other day to Lana Del Ray announcing half a dozen projects… to Weezer releasing two albums in a matter of months. The last one, OK Human, was actually meant to be released afterwards, but the orchestral parts of that project having already been recorded, the band went on finishing it up before Van Weezer came along.
In normal circumstances, one would assume that Rivers Cuomo and colleagues would have also likely waited a little longer in-between projects. While OK Human is an homage to Abbey Road (literally: it was recorded there, along with a 40-piece orchestra), Van Weezer is instead a very obvious nod to the heavy metal sounds of the 70’s and 80’s — and arguably the origin story of the band. Lest we forget, before the guys became one of the hippest alternative bands out there, they were an outright, heavy-riffing, clean cut rock band way back when. Then, time and taste got in the way. But, in this glorious year or 2021, the gang is back with the sounds of the past — from Van Halen‘s (naturally) to Ozzy Osbourne‘s and even Billy Joel…
Let’s explain: the impetus for all this clearly derives from the sheer virtuosity of the late Eddie Van Halen‘s (RIP…) guitar work circa “Eruption”, i.e. the very early days. As such, songs like “Hero” and “The End of the Game” are based on wonderfully bombastic power chords, guitar tapping sequences and all around amps that clearly go to 11. Add to that direct references to Osbourne’s work on “Blue Dream” with one of the icon’s most (in)famous guitar riffs, or a more subtly Metallica-infused “1 More Hit” (until the chorus comes, that is) and you get yourself a pretty good recipe for classic (rock) musical enjoyment.
There are also a couple of tracks on the album where you can appreciate the extent of Cuomo’s wickedness: “The Beginning of the End” is a heavy metal song based on Billy Joel‘s retro tune “The Longest Time”. In the same spirit, “I Need Some of That” interestingly borrows from Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” of all songs… Then you get the closer “Precious Metal Girl”, which lies somewhere between soft-era Green Day and Taylor Swift-esque folk work… In short (and it is a short album: barely over 30 minutes!), Van Weezer is a highly enjoyable piece of retro-rock music with a funny twist added to the mix. Will it however itself become a classic for the ages? That remains to be seen…