Review The Reviewer: Pitchfork on Weezer’s ‘Black Album’
Did we listen to the same album?
Just like Saturday Night Live parodied via Matt Damon, everyone seems to have an opinion on Weezer. Their latest album was no exception as every major blog, magazine, and podcast has reviewed the new opus from Rivers Cuomo and company. One such was review could be found on Pitchfork by Peyton Thomas.
Upon reading the review, I had a couple of questions for the writer. Did we listen to the same album? Could he possibly be related to Dylan Thomas?
Let me begin by noting an issue I have with so many Weezer reviews. I am reminded of that age-old line, why you gotta bring up old s***?
The review begins discussing what Rivers Cuomo did upon releasing the album, Pinkerton. I get it. Pinkerton is part of Weezer’s historical legacy as a band, but does it need to be discussed every single time. Every time they name an album after a color, the entire world needs to endlessly talk about Pinkerton. It was released in 1996, so what Weezer does today in 2019 really has absolutely nothing to do with it.
If Mr. Thomas was using it as a means to introduce the review, then perhaps he should have used something with a bit more current context. The other thing about the mention of this beginning introduction is the fact that the writer goes into quite a bit of detail about what Cuomo did after Pinkerton’s release including what he said and how he felt. I am wondering where he got this information or is Rivers Cuomo a close, personal friend of his?
As I began to enter the meat of the review, there was an epiphany that came to me pretty quickly. This review actually belonged in an academic journal for musicology in a university library. Some examples include “wistful longing,” “hysterical ode to constructive criticism,” “universality over specificity” and “sinks to maudlin depths,” just to name a few.
A review found in a major publication should not require a dictionary. Did the author write this using a Thesaurus app from his phone?
Along with the academic language, the review is filled with references to a million things with absolutely no context. The reader needs to make so many leaps trying to understand what the hell he is talking about that it felt like I am ready for the long jump in the Olympics.
For example, Mr. Thomas mentions Leslie Jones with a link to another article referring to the Saturday Night Live Weezer sketch. At least, a link to another article was provided. Another instance sees him mention “Sicko Mode,” but has absolutely no mention of Travis Scott or why this is so. You almost get the sense that there is an assignment due after reading this for some class on Weezer and society.
That is fine because there is a time and place for such exposition, but just not here. This review is completely inaccessible for the general reader. The author has taken a simple Weezer album and turned it into an analysis more closely related to Dante’s Inferno for a graduate level literature class. This review is making mountains out of molehills by analyzing the lyrics entirely too deeply than is necessary.
Lastly, I disagree with the score of 5.7 he has given the album. This is a good album, but not a great album. Yet, it deserved a more solid score than what has been given here. As NME notes, the jokes wear thin and seem a bit repetitive, but do not discount Weezer’s ability to write catchy pop tunes with excellent riffs.
This album is filled with those signature Weezer qualities throughout in songs, “High As a Kite,” “Piece of Cake,” and “Zombie Bastards.” As for the jokes wearing thin, I will give Weezer a pass on that one. They have always been a nerdy band that enjoy the goofy, rather than the serious. As any nerdy comedian can attest, knowing when to be subtle will never be part of their approach to art. That would be a hipster, and Weezer has proven over their entire catalog that is most definitely not their style. Sometimes a song with its lyrics can be merely that, a song.
Weezer’s Black Album is meant to be fun, so looking for some deeper philosophical meaning using their entire catalog as a guide defeats the whole purpose of fun. This can happen in reviews where too much thought and analysis has gone into the lyrics. Treating them like a literature review, instead of a song seems like overkill. An interesting exercise would be to see this review without studying the lyrics so much. It may not change a thing, but it is definitely worth a try. Of course, that is only my opinion, I could be wrong.
Sorry Dennis Miller.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.