Weezer attempts to play karaoke with “The Teal Album,” a surprise release comprising only of covers of some of music’s most well-known songs stamped with the band’s power-pop sound.
One of the most revolutionary and critically-acclaimed bands of the '90s, Weezer, desperately trying to recapture the magic of their first two albums, “The Blue Album” and “Pinkerton”, has faltered significantly as the aughts went along. Although they’ve found their groove again with releases like “Everything Will Be Alright In the End,” the band’s reputation has been lost for years.
This year will see the delivery of the most anticipated Weezer album in many years with “The Black Album”, which will hopefully be a return to the darker power-pop formula they toyed with in the nineties and appease fans. In anticipation of this, the group released this covers collection seemingly out of thin air, with no fanfare or indication whatsoever.
It’s sure to anger hardcore fans of the old Weezer. It’s destined to be maligned on the internet by music tyrants for the foreseeable future. But in the band’s defense, you can’t deny the attempt to have a little fun and cash in on some good old-fashioned cheesy replications of songs which have garnered stature as memes.
Lead singer Rivers Cuomo and company kick things off with their smash-hit rendition of Toto’s classic “Africa,” a result of many fans’ petitioning on Twitter and by far their most popular release in a long time. The crunchy guitars and gleaming synths, layered on top of Cuomo’s nerdy vocal pitch, create a welcome transformation to a bona fide '80s hallmark.
And the same could be said for the rest of the album — a fun round of songs that require no thought to process, try nothing new and present pleasant backing tracks to fun times. It’s almost as if it was supposed to be bad.
But if it’s mediocre, isn’t that an improvement?
For a gauntlet of cover tracks, Weezer goes after surprising choices that would shock those that remember the days of “Buddy Holly” and “Beverly Hills.” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” “Take On Me” and “Billie Jean” are all present, and they’re all soaked in the overdrive of guitars and thundering drums.
The best on the album is by far an ambitious take on Black Sabbath’s barnstormer “Paranoid,” with the trademark Weezer sound giving way to even more rock sound. It’s not even close to the original, but it’s amusing to see Cuomo channel his inner Ozzy.
Things get strange as the band attempts, out of any possible combination in the entire conceived notion of the universe, to cover '90s girl group TLC. Their interpretation of “No Scrubs” is highly ambitious, and for the most part it’s decent. Think Kidz Bop, but much older men helming the music.
Even though the tracks comprising the album’s 36-minute run time are jubilant, they can’t help but seem generic and bland outside of “Africa” and “Paranoid.” Cuomo’s vocals flat-out do not mix with some of the songs, and the synths sometimes feel left-field and out of place. An alternative rock band has no place to cover “Billy Jean” in this life or the next.
But as a teaser for “The Black Album” and a farce delving in the joy that an overblown karaoke hit can give to a sometimes-drunk listener, “The Teal Album” proves that something doesn’t have to be an artistic statement to be a good time. Say what you will about Weezer, but they don’t care.