A mixed bag of Weezer



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"The Red Album" displays the best and the worst of Weezer's musical abilities. Buy Photos

Weezer’s sixth studio effort and third self-titled release is half a great album and half a mediocre one. The first four tracks and the final track are among the best the band has ever recorded, but it’s unfortunate that tracks five through nine feel like Rivers Cuomo and company got a little lazy (and a whole lotta whimsical) behind the sound boards. Supposedly culled from "hundreds" of songs written by the band over the past three years, The Red Album feels like a mash-up between the mope-pop genius of 1996’s Pinkerton and the anxiety-addled quirks of 2005’s underwhelming Make Believe.

"Everybody Get Dangerous," "Automatic" and "Thought I Knew" could’ve come from any band out there. "Cold Dark World" is an uncomfortable peek into Cuomo’s psyche, but it’s the overlong "Dreamin’" that really baffles. Like a compost heap of Weezer’s every negative excess, it’s probably the worst track on any of their records. Thankfully, this record begins and ends on such high notes that these songs are forgivable.

"Troublemaker" kicks the album off with a driving lead riff and some of Cuomo’s most genuinely funny lyrics, but it’s "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" that ends up defining the record. Shifting tempo and style every eight bars, and chock full of choral breaks and falsetto vocals, it’s Cuomo’s prolific writing style at its most effective and memorable. The radio hit "Pork and Beans" recalls the Blue Album days without getting too nostalgic, because it’s "Heart Songs" that pours on the nostalgia (in a good way). A roll call of songs and artists that inspired Cuomo as an impressionable teen, it reminds longtime Weezer fans why we fell in love with the band in the first place.

The closer, "The Angel and the One," is essentially a slow-burning and slow-building dirge to someone or something terribly special to Cuomo, and it’s a stunner. After three years of waiting for new studio material, it’s regrettable that The Red Album suffers from the five-track slowdown it does. Nevertheless, there’s 23 minutes of top notch material here, making it well worth a purchase for any fan of the band.

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