At this point in their career, Weezer are the musical equivalent of The Simpsons. Hacky, pandering, and decades past their best work, they relentlessly strive to remain relevant with feeble attempts at becoming a meme. Anything that succeeds feels like an accident, and engaging with it critically is rarely worth the effort. Thirty years on from their first demo tape, the Californian quartet led by the perpetually dorky Rivers Cuomo have released the second entry in a series of EPs based on Vivaldi’s violin concertos, The Four Seasons. The concept tastes stale even before you hear the songs, which Cuomo has described as “21st-century ’90s.” Overproduced to the point of sounding completely generic, SZNZ: Summer is yassified butt-rock with cringe-inducing lyrics that aren’t half as clever as they think they are.
As a teenager, Weezer’s mix of nerdy self-deprecation, sexual frustration, and ripping guitar solos spoke to me. Then I grew up a little bit and realized “Across the Sea” is disgusting. Cuomo has called Pinkerton “a hideous record,” and has been attempting some kind of squeaky clean return to form since 2001’s Green Album. There are decent songs sprinkled through the last 20 years of their discography, but it’s mostly been one embarrassing joke or half-baked concept after another. Their glossily produced gimmicks now come across like an unholy combination of OK Go and Oliver Tree.
Repeating the trick of “Opening Night” from SZNZ: Spring, “Lawn Chair” begins the second EP with violins interpolating a melody from Vivaldi. Many people have compared his early 18th-century compositions to heavy metal, thanks to the way their dramatic chords evoke the images of a “violent storm” or “stinging winds” in the accompanying sonnets. This makes sense as a source of inspiration for Cuomo, who once styled himself like a member of Stryper, but an album-length exploration of orchestral metal would have been much more interesting. Instead, they give us a perfunctory nod to the concept before resuming Weezer-by-numbers.
The beefy riffs of “Records” travel the well-trod path of “Hash Pipe,” “Dope Nose,” and a million other variations on a tired formula. Vinyl scratches add a literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics, which also include lazily rhymed references to Lana, Rihanna, and Nirvana. The choruses about a record spinning “round and round” are almost as incessantly annoying as Blue October’s “Jump Rope.” Then, just when you think it can’t get any worse, we get “Blue Like Jazz,” as Cuomo begs someone to teach him how to be “cool like that” with a pained falsetto and corny shredding that sounds like Evanescence.
The band has described SZNZ: Summer as an “angrier, indignant scorcher of an EP” compared to the “light-hearted tone” of SZNZ: Spring. This is most obvious on “What’s the Good of Being Good,” a Stanley Ipkiss-style incel anthem about nice guys finishing last with “no loving wife to smile at me/No daughter to dote on with pride.” Sadly, Cuomo seems like he hasn’t learned anything in the 26 years since he sang about a woman who should be attracted to him even if she’s not interested in men. If Weezer ever wants to evolve, they should start by reflecting on why they still write songs like whiny teenage boys.