Not even two years ago, Rivers Cuomo shared his plan for Weezer’s 2022.
Rivers wanted to release four albums (or EPs) in a year. Each coming out the first day of a season, with each record having a certain tone, feel and theme. Inspired by Vivaldi, the songs would (loosely) tell the stories of two angels who go to Earth for vacation and don’t go back to heaven.
Here we are, on the first day of winter 2022 and Weezer has done it. There were some stumbling blocks and things along the way that didn’t happen (a Broadway show and a Wrecking Crew-like group of backing magicians). But with the help of project producers Suzy Shinn, Jake Sinclair, the individual record producers and other musicians, engineers and technicians, Weezer has released four albums this year. That’s pretty incredible.
Even more incredible, and I don’t say this lightly, but overall, taking all four records into consideration, SZNZ is Weezer’s best album yet. I said a few months ago and stand by the fact that Weezer is making some of their best music ever. I’m not saying SZNS is perfect. There are weaknesses. Production quality varies from album to album. Because they’re EPs, each album is short. At times, you feel like there’s not enough variety or flavor on an album. But SZNZ overcomes this.
As a whole, there’s variation in SZNZ. Weezer explores different musical styles. There are songs that sound like Yacht Rock and songs that would sound like they belong on a Christmas-themed playlist. Rivers incorporates Vivaldi and other classical themes throughout the songs. These songs are clearly about something and mean something to Rivers. Most importantly, the songs are catchy with great melodies and dynamic structures.
These songs don’t replace any of Weezer’s earlier work. I’m still as big a fan of Buddy Holly, The Good Life and all their other early (and mid career) songs as I ever was. But the songs Weezer has made in these last few years stand right up there with those early favorites. In terms of songwriting and composition, this (SZNZ and OK Human from last year) material goes back to and builds on Weezer’s early albums. Rivers isn’t writing songs where the final chorus sounds cut-and-pasted from the first. These songs evolve. He’s not afraid of tempo/chord changes or even taking a song in a whole new direction. Those were things he stopped doing after the world’s reaction to Pinkerton. And he’s returned to it here and there in his songwriting since. But here he is, embracing those tactics and making the music better with them.
Twenty-one years ago, when Weezer returned from their first big hiatus with the Green Album, I was pumped that Weezer was back. I loved the album, even if it wasn’t exactly the kind of music I wanted. At the time I (and everyone else) didn’t have a clue how long Weezer’s career would be. But since then, they’ve put out more incredible music (or mostly incredible) of all different styles. They’ve had hits and misses. And they’ve grown.
Rivers has already started talking about Weezer’s next album (here’s a hint: it’s time for another color album). And some are talking about what they’d like it to sound like. As for me, I’m fine with whatever they want to do.