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Death to False Metal’ breathes little life into Weezer’s slump

Ross Finney | Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2.5 out of 4 shamrocks

When Weezer announced that its next release would be a collection of rarities, fans of the band saw a glimmer of hope. After a slew of inconsistent albums, from the radio-rock mediocrity of “Make Believe” to the puzzling-at-best “Raditude,” many questioned whether front man Rivers Cuomo had lost the ability, or simply the will, to recreate the power-pop glory of the first few Weezer albums.

So, logically, scouring the archives for the best B-sides and unused track from the band’s 15 year tenure with the David Geffen Co. should be a return to form for the band. Right?

Well, it’s not that simple. Cuomo described the album as the band’s 9th studio release and the logical follow-up to their latest original record and indie-debut, the somewhat average “Hurley.” It is apparent after a listen that “Death to False Metal” is surprisingly cohesive sounding for a collection of songs spanning over a decade. As it turns out, the band picked the songs and then brought them into the studio where they reworked and re-recorded them.

In that sense the record never lives up to what it could be — that is, a unique glimpse into the evolution and development of the band. Instead, it oddly does seem like a follow-up to “Hurley,” and that’s not necessarily good news for fans looking for classic Weezer.

The songs themselves are really varied in terms of quality. On these types of albums it is rare to find huge standout cuts — after all, they didn’t make it onto the records for a reason — but there are a couple very strong songs.

Leading the album is “Turning up the Radio,” a good, if not somewhat standard, sort of tune. With light feel, good lyrics and a big hook for the chorus, the song epitomizes the good-not-great sort of song the band has become best known for in recent years.

“Everyone” is an interesting experiment for the band. Though fans of Weezer’s poppier side may not like it, the song is good. By far the most hard-rocking track on the album, Cuomo seems to be trying for a Nirvana-grunge sound, which the band pulls off to some success.

“I’m a Robot” is an upbeat, extremely wry take on middle-class living that, in spite of its catchiness and interesting premise, ultimately fails to deliver. Though ambitious conceptually, the lyrics are mostly unsatisfying and kind of goofy, but not in the way that makes a lot of Weezer’s songs endearing.

The standout track is “Trampoline.” The song is straightforward power-pop reminiscent of the “Blue” or “Green” albums and the lyrics get right at the heart of the awkward angst that Weezer is really about. The song has “fan favorite” written all over it, and really stands as one of the better Weezer songs to come out lately, not just from this album.

The rest of the tracks are largely interchangeable. With mostly dull lyrics and plenty of catchy but not classic riffs, they might be aptly described as filler, except they were specially picked and reworked for this collection. Like the album as a whole, they aren’t bad, they’re just not special.