The rock scene in North America in the 1990s was nothing short of revolutionary. Metallica‘s 1991 self-titled album, better known as The Black Album, launched the metal legends into super stardom and carved a path for rock music to break into the mainstream, then came Nirvana‘s world conquering Nevermind in 1992 and the rise of grunge with the likes of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden pushing the Seattle scene to the forefront. Bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine took their opportunities, as did eventual megastars Foo Fighters and Green Day. All in all, rock music forcibly took over in the 90s and established a platform that many bands are still seeking to climb on today. Whilst this music suddenly became all the rage, there were some who chipped away in the ranks in a quieter fashion, producing music for the geeks and the outcasts. In this camp, Weezer were the kings and in their self-titled debut The Blue Album, no one has bettered them.
Their alternative rock and power-pop style satiate both the musical purists and more mainstream listeners, songs like ‘Say It Ain’t So’ and ‘My Name Is Jonas’ still stand among the band’s biggest songs and are beloved by many, Weezer fans or not. They pack huge choruses which, let’s face it, we all know by now. The softer and more introverted nature to frontman Rivers Cuomo’s vocals and guitar work tapped into a generation who wanted away from the macho-frat boy behaviour and appeal of mainstream media, whilst Kurt Cobain may be the 90s’ biggest musical icon, Rivers Cuomo is its most timeless. The geeky nature of The Blue Album is where most of the appeal lies: music by the everyday guy for the everyday guy. ‘No One Else’ is a fluffy love song with a darker undertone of obsession and control – “When I’m away she never leaves the house/I want a girl who laughs for no one else” – simply constructed yet irresistibly catchy, as is The Blue Album‘s dominant theme.
‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’ and ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’ play out similarly in their unpolished and awkwardly honest nature, the former featuring one of the band’s strongest riffs and the latter being one of their most deceptively melancholic tunes, despite the awesome guitar solo and quirky hook. Just when Weezer couldn’t sound any more like a bunch of nerdy teens jamming in the garage, they drop songs like ‘In the Garage’ which name drop pop culture references and incorporates a meta-commentary on the album’s very existence, “I’ve got an electric guitar/I play my stupid songs/I write these stupid words […] No one cares about my ways/In the garage/Where I belong/No one hears me sing this song”. ‘Holiday’, like ‘My Name Is Jonas’ is still one the band’s biggest songs and shows Weezer’s power-pop sensibilities at their most enjoyable and infectious, but as great as it is, it’s no ‘Buddy Holly’. Still after 23 years Weezer’s big gun, a catchy riff, Rivers’ adorkable lyrics and a chorus for the ages, it’s the perfect song.
It feels a little obsolete trying to pin down exactly what it is that makes The Blue Album the classic that it is, so much has been said about Weezer’s masterpiece since its inception and 23 years later, we’re still trying to define it. Geeky as hell, bizarrely emo, catchy, dorky, simplistic, yet somehow a triumph. The term “perfect album” gets banded around, despite our elusive attempts to pin down what may or may not fall under this term, but I’d say with confidence that The Blue Album fits it.
Weezer are releasing their eleventh studio album, Pacific Daydream on October 27th