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Feeling The Blues Since The Blue Album

Alex Kilpatrick | Monday, November 2, 2009

In the wake of Weezer’s seventh studio album, “Raditude,” it is essential to reflect on the L.A.-based alternative rock band’s first major effort and success, 1994’s “Weezer (The Blue Album).” Hailed among high school students and music critics alike, Weezer’s debut LP was seen as relatable to its target audience, the average high school student.  
With images of lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s daydreaming adolescence doused throughout the album and a self-deprecating yet endearing humor to supplement them, the band won its audience over with its unexpected geekiness, which went against the grain of laid-back grunge rock at the time. According to All Music Guide, “What makes the band so enjoyable is their charming geekiness; instead of singing about despair, they sing about love, which is kind of refreshing in the gloom-drenched world of ‘90s guitar-pop.”
The album opens with “My Name is Jonas,” ever-popular among “Guitar Hero III” fans, as it combines a waltz-like tempo with rapid acoustic and electric guitar riffs. According to John Luerssen’s book, “River’s Edge: The Weezer Story,” Cuomo was inspired by his brother who was having a problem with his car insurance after getting seriously injured in an accident at Oberlin College.
“No One Else” is an excellent example of Weezer’s tendencies to sing about adolescent love and use appropriate grammar while they’re at it. The song describes a jealous, obsessive and over-controlling boyfriend and is perhaps best exemplified by the chorus’ lyrics: “I want a girl who will laugh for no one else. / When I’m away, she puts her makeup on the shelf. / When I’m away, she never leaves the house. / I want a girl who laughs for no one else.”
“The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” has a sweet acoustic melodic beat and convincingly passionate lead vocals and well-written, typically creative lyrics about an agonizing break up: “The world has turned and left me here / Just where I was before you appeared. / And in your place an empty space / Has filled the void behind my face.”  
“Buddy Holly” is the upbeat second single that brought Weezer critical and commercial success with its music video directed by Spike Jonze, portraying the band in Arnold’s Drive-In Diner from ‘70s sitcom “Happy Days.” Now a classic, the song epitomizes geek rock with its lyrics, “Woo-ee-oo, I look just like Buddy Holly. / Oh-oh, and you’re Mary Tyler Moore. / I don’t care what they say about us anyway. / I don’t care ‘bout that.”
“Undone (The Sweater Song),” the debut single, contains a simple chord progression and a spoken introduction mumbled as a background conversation by bassist Matt Sharp to supplement Cuomo’s uneasy vocals and nonsensical lyrics, “If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away.” “Surf Wax America” is a more fun and laid back song with messy guitar riffs and not much substance (“You take your car to work, I’ll take my board. / And when you’re out of fuel, I’m still afloat”), but it works for Weezer, as some of the surrounding songs in the album address serious issues.
“Say It Ain’t So,” the third single, starts off with a soft, laid-back guitar and eventually grows into loud drums, guitar, and vocals on the chorus, “Say it ain’t so. / Your drug is a heartbreaker. / Say it ain’t so. / Your love is a life-taker.” According to Luerssen, these darker lyrics were based on Cuomo’s belief that his parents had split up when he was four because his dad was an alcoholic. The song is probably the best-executed song on the album as relates to the strained yet passionate lead vocals, guitar riffs and feedback, and soft-loud dynamics.
Unfortunately, Weezer has never quite reached the same level of critical success since their “Buddy Holly” days. In fact, if you looked at Weezer’s career backwards, starting with their most recent album and ending with their debut album, they would be a really impressive band. As it is, their critical acclaim has mysteriously and unfortunately deteriorated with each successive album, from “Pinkerton” to “Pork and Beans”-era “The Red Album.” “The Blue Album” will always stand as their most seminal and well-executed LP.