Instant Expert: Weezer
You’ve seen them at parties, lurking in the corner, waiting to engage in battle disguised as conversation. They’re indie rock know-it-alls, and no matter what band or musician you mention, they’ve got an opinion — strong and almost certainly negative — ready to ram down your throat. With Instant Expert, we offer preparation for these very situations. Each Thursday, in advance of your weekend carousing, we pick an artist and provide a quickie career overview, highlighting both prevailing critical opinions and the inevitable contrarian counterarguments. Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the music, you’ll be able to bluff your way through and defend your indie cred. This week: Weezer.
Weezer's self-titled 1994 debut album was released at the same time alternative music was taking over the mainstream. It was an immediate hit, thanks to its pop-friendly songs and buzz-worthy videos. But two years later, the follow-up LP, 'Pinkerton,' tanked, and frontman Rivers Cuomo retreated from the spotlight, focusing on college and his songwriting. In 2001, Weezer returned with another album called 'Weezer' (there's be one more with this title, from 2008), which made them stars again. Since then, the band has released five more albums -- three of them coming out in a little more than two years.
'Pinkerton,' Weezer's second album, bombed when it was released in 1996. The lead single, 'El Scorcho,' barely cracked the Top 20 on the Modern Rock chart (all three singles from the debut reached the Top 10). But over the years, it's come to be seen as the band's masterpiece, a concept album that works in 'Madame Butterfly,' relationship angst and Cuomo's celebrity disillusionment among the guitar-centered, but still tuneful, songs.
Weezer's 1994 debut (known as 'The Blue Album') allowed some levity to creep into indie rock's emphasis on heavy grunge music at the time. The group didn't take themselves too seriously. More importantly, tracks like 'My Name Is Jonas,' 'Undone -- The Sweater Song' and 'Buddy Holly' are super-catchy.
By the time Weezer's third album (titled, once again, 'Weezer,' but commonly known as 'The Green Album') came out in 2001, they were a well-oiled machine. The five-year break between records gave Cuomo a chance to clear his head and come up with his best-ever set of songs (see 'Hash Pipe' and 'Island in the Sun').
Of all the jokey novelty bands that came out in the '90s, Weezer are definitely the best.