In the early 1990s, grunge music came and went with Kurt Cobain. And after his death in 1994, it seemed like Weezer was the current strain of rock music’s answer to The Beach Boys. This unique style and part-pastiche offered a refreshing blend of songs starting strong with their first album.
That sound is something the quartet has kept at the center of their work ethic, except in infamous, lukewarm, and at times, zen moments over their thirty-year career. From the outset, there were die-hard fans and casuals and haters. The band had three unique singles that received significant airplay on several visual and auditory mediums thanks to Windows 95 Install CD-ROMs and the always-on MTV music videos.
Of course, underground darling bands like Pavement have notoriously hated Weezer for not being authentic enough. While that gossip is good bubble gum at best—or, at worst, rehashed flavorless cud—it nonetheless does not share much about the experience of listening to the first and finest Weezer album, and every peak and valley in between.
Get caught up, smoke if you got some, and enjoy the sad summery sounds of Weezer.
- Weezer (Blue Album) (1994)
- Pinkerton (1996)
- Weezer (Green Album) (2001)
- Maladroit (2002)
- Make Believe (2005)
- Weezer (Red Album) (2008)
- Raditude (2009)
- Hurley (2010)
- Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014)
- Weezer (White Album) (2016)
- Pacific Daydream (2017)
- Weezer (Teal Album) (2019)
- Weezer (Black Album) (2019)
- OK Human (2021)
- Van Weezer (2021)
Weezer (Blue Album)
Released: May 10, 1994
The first Weezer album is their best, full stop. And that is not an opportunity that comes often, nor is it an easy burden for any band to carry as it gets older and wiser. But the cult status is well-earned as an album with no skips, depending on the listener.
What makes Weezer memorable, unique, and adventurous in their field is at its most un-self-conscious display on the album’s three core tracks “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” and “Undone (Sweater Song).” These were also the album’s most successful songs.
Eighties guitar solo passages unapologetically sprawl over this satisfying release after a long-winded build. All in all, they have very successfully captured the underground pop glory days of the Sixties. It’s Velvet Underground meets Van Halen.
Sure, Blue strays off the beaten path in some parts. The second track, “No One Else,” comes and throws everything off the rails after the tongue-in-cheek introductory “My Name is Jonas.”
The second tune is a favorite among die-hard fans, but its lyrical component is sorely lacking in feminist ethics which it aims for between the lines in narrative scope. The song sounds like the embodiment of a 90s sitcom scene where the guy is jealous and awkward, kind of like Eric Foreman from That Seventies Show.
Nobody stays at the top forever, but everyone will remember how you made them feel—and for many, Blue is the soundtrack to a very sacred time.
- “Undone – The Sweater Song”
- “Buddy Holly”
- “Say It Ain’t So”
- “Only in Dreams”
- “My Name is Jonas”
September 24, 1996
After a widely celebrated major debut, Weezer recorded a collection of songs that would transform the band’s style and the world’s tastes forever. Not for nothing did the world react negatively to Weezer’s lean into the personal and problematic.
While there is something to be said about the realm of art as a space for absolute vulnerability, it is still not without merit that one should offer dissenting viewpoints with the song’s narrator and songwriter, Rivers Cuomo, and the band as a vehicle for the songs.
The odd thing about Pinkerton is its divisive status in the pantheon of Weezer albums. It is of the early and formative Matt Sharp-era, which means the band performs with an edge. More than that, it was a band and a songwriter, flying freely with no trepidation, into the sun—until wide critic backlash and deadpan, head-scratching fanfare pushed the band into a line of saccharine pop music. So, Pinkerton stands as both a ceiling and rock bottom for the band, which few albums, if any others, do.
But what connects to many Pinkerton fans is the rawness, that openness to be cringe, in the name of self-loathing and self-cleansing. The music reflects that vision, and the band performs on all cylinders. This time, though, the band itself produced everything, and the gritty noir and goofy results speak for themselves.
There is no doubt that melodically and instrumentally, the band was also setting the bar higher for everyone in the singer-songwriter and punk scenes. There are a lot of interesting chord progressions, lead guitar phrases, and other sonic choices, such as the acoustic guitar riff on “El Scorcho,” the slide guitar solo on “The Good Life,” or the triangle on “Pink Triangle.”
- “El Scorcho”
- “The Good Life”
- “Pink Triangle”
- “Why Bother?”
Weezer (Green Album)
May 15, 2001
Weezer, or The Green Album, was Weezer’s return to sunshine pop-rock. Some loved it, thanks to hits like “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe,” while others thought Weezer had sold out a bit too much in their return to form.
But after the critics tore apart Pinkerton‘s unflinching indulgence in the negative and abrasive emotions, it’s not hard to see why Cuomo and company chose this route of generally making the least offensive music ever. And sure, it’s not too bad, all things considered—Weezer has put out worse albums, for sure. But it wasn’t anything as riveting as even Pinkerton, let alone Blue.
Still, it was good to see the band back to making music. And their change in style cemented a focused adult contemporary rock sound. But most of it sounds uninspired and more of the same, at worst. It’s the only Weezer record with Mikey Welsh, who played bass and unfortunately died of a drug overdose in 2011.
- “Hash Pipe”
- “Island in the Sun”
May 14, 2002
While Maladroit might appear repetitive on the surface, it has much more depth than The Green Album. Songs like “Death and Destruction” and “American Gigalo” have interesting guitar passages on top of the chord progressions. The first track features a pleasant yet melancholy—and most importantly, unique—background track, featuring a guitar solo on the backend.
There is more instrumental variety and more guitar solos on this record compared to The Green Album. There’s some solid bass playing, too, thanks to the addition of Scott Shriner. Shriner has since proven himself to be the right bass player for Weezer and has stuck with the band ever since.
The biggest songs on the album are “Dope Nose” and Keep Fishin,'” both of which rock. The second track also has a fun and exciting music video featuring The Muppets! Essentially, this album feels like a far more accessible version of Pinkerton, and the Weezer catalog benefits from its inclusion.
- “Dope Nose”
- “Keep Fishin'”
- “American Gigalo”
- “Death and Destruction”
- “Burndt Jamb”
May 10, 2005
Make Believe established a critical resurgence in everything Weezer, thanks to the smash hit single and music video “Beverly Hills.” Its sister song and video “Perfect Situation” also made a significant impact on radio stations, during a time when rock music was still prominent—despite electronic pop domination.
Weezer had found themselves in a place where they felt comfortable going for more cinematic moments on the record, which is where the group has always shined: anthemic choruses, swirling guitar passages, and power chords with some direction in the strum.
Thanks to Make Believe, Weezer re-established themselves, proving they weren’t going anywhere and were, for the first time since pre-1996, one of the biggest names in rock music.
- “Beverly Hills”
- “We Are All on Drugs”
- “Perfect Situation”
- “This Is Such a Pity”
Weezer (Red Album)
June 3, 2008
The Red Album gave the band even more momentum. It established that Weezer could rise back to its glory days with consistency. Multiple songs proved the band became sorely missed on rock radio, specifically the first meme music video and the biggest hit from the record, “Pork and Beans.” Music videos became drastically impacted by the internet, specifically YouTube. Weezer was a part of that shift.
But plenty of other songs, namely “Troublemaker” and “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” proved that Weezer’s newfound energy was no fluke. The latter is an epic song that was the band’s most adventurous and one of their most impressive moments on record.
- “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)”
- “Pork and Beans”
- “Heart Songs”
November 3, 2009
DGC, Interscope, Geffen
Ratitude starts another new two-album cycle trend of further commitment to writing hit alternative songs, missing at times, but generally rocking well enough to keep plenty of die-hard and casual fans alike.
That’s partly because of the hit success of “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” which encapsulates what Weezer does best. It’s poppy, catchy, sweet, nerdy, and musically unique—and thankfully, that means it’s easy to dance along.
This album is also the first to feature a guest artist in the Weezer discography. Those thanks go to Lil Wayne on the divisive “Can’t Stop Partying.” Around this time, Rivers collaborated with rapper B.oB, and Lil Wayne experimented with rock music. So, it makes sense the two collaborated on a Weezer song.
It sounds like a radio single, not quite timeless and very dated—but perfect for the time. Plus, Wayne’s verse is not bad by any means. It’s an odd but intriguing collaboration, and maybe it will happen again someday.
- “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”
- “I’m Your Daddy”
- “Can’t Stop Partying (featuring Lil Wayne)”
- “Let It All Hang Out”
- “Put Me Back Together”
September 10, 2010
Hurley is a fine and, at times, highly artistic album. The songwriting benefits from several guest songwriters, and Weezer seems driven, even in moments of directionlessness.
Of course, it suffers in some areas, most notably an outdated song like “Smart Girls,” which is surface-level at best and projects a sense of toxic nerd masculinity that is nothing new in the Weezer discography.
Still, it’s got a decent melody and song structure, and the intentions might be good. And perhaps that is Weezer in a nutshell during this 2000s era: at best, the band is capable of presenting some compelling pop and rock songs, and at worst, they can make you cringe and feel tired.
Songs like “Memories,” “Unspoken,” “Run Away,” and “Trainwrecks” are genuinely well-crafted pop-rock songs. And listening through the album, you can never underestimate the textures, instruments, melodies, or one-liners that will stick out to you and stay.
It’s got one of the weirdest Weezer album artworks, much like its predecessor Ratitude—which is why these albums are two peas in a pod, in more ways than one.
- “Hang On”
- “Run Away”
Everything Will Be Alright in the End
October 7, 2014
Everything Will Be Alright in the End showed Weezer was no longer afraid of going for the cinematic song production or album concept. And that is when the band has historically shined.
The first track is a demonstrative exercise in modern rock songwriting with inspiration taken from sixties rock tunes and the classic Weezer sound. That is, of course, “Ain’t Got Nobody.” But plenty of other songs on the album is worth their runtime, like “Back to the Shack,” “Cleopatra,” and “Da Vinci.” It’s also refreshing to hear the presence of guitars prominently in the mix, and they are doing the unexpected and doing it well.
The shining moments in the album are “The Futurescope Trilogy” songs, which make up a total runtime of over seven minutes. They are right at the end and represent more than a workable medley of song ideas that flow into each other. The band can pull off daring musical experiments, so it makes sense that more experiments were on the horizon. And that’s still exciting.
- “Ain’t Got Nobody”
- “Back to the Shack”
- “Da Vinci”
Weezer (White Album)
April 1, 2016
The White Album is solid, and one of the most celebrated modern Weezer albums in some circles. But it’s still not where Nineties Weezer was—this one right here is far more concerned with pop radio—and if it can do something unique, it will. It resembles their 2005-2008 era if anything.
Still, the songs on here are great and very interesting. “California Kids” is the album opener, and shows Weezer operating at their best efforts: accessible and genuine, with bright and sunny production, harmonies, and huge anthemic melodies, with sticky one-liners.
The guitars are engaging, and the drums are tight throughout this record. And it’s a genuinely breezy and enjoyable listen, making it one of their better albums for sure.
- “Thank God for Girls”
- “Do You Wanna Get High?”
- “King of the World”
October 27, 2017
Pacific Daydream sees Weezer trying to make straight-up bangers. And in a sense, it’s successful at it. But any hardcore Weezer fan runs the risk of thinking the band has sold out deeper and deeper after each track.
Still, these songs are decent pop tunes, and some intriguing and satisfying things are going on lyrically, vocally, melodically, and with regard to production.
While it may not be anything special, the band seemed to be following the likes of Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, champions of an earlier rock era adapting to modern club audiences. It’s not hard to see how this same band released Teal soon after.
- “Feels Like Summer”
- “Happy Hour”
- “Beach Boys”
- “La Mancha Screwjob”
Weezer (Teal Album)
January 24, 2019
Teal is generally considered a cash-grab, given the nature of its premise. It is, after all, a covers album. Anyone expecting the band to do anything inventive with the songs will get promptly disappointed. Still, the takes on Toto and A-ha are good enough to warrant a further listen through the album’s tracks.
Given Weezer’s cult status, it is avowedly interesting to see the band perform songs that everyone requests at bars across America. There’s a nice mix of the 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s throughout Teal‘s run-time.
- “Take on Me”
Weezer (Black Album)
March 1, 2019
Weezer (The Black Album) is another effort to make banger after banger for modern rock-pop radio sensibilities.
At plenty of points on this record, you get the impression that anybody during this era of artists—like 21 Pilots and others leading the current four-on-the-floor, slightly-80s dance music craze—could have sung these songs.
“High on the Kite” is one of the best moments on the record. It is anthemic and pop-ready, sure. But at least it breaks up the sonic monotony with some appealing acoustic and electric rock guitar, interplaying with the piano and a 1970s-sounding premise, most prominent on the song’s impressive bridge section. That and “Too Many Thoughts in My Head” show that, without self-consciousness, the results are exciting and even gritty.
You can hear, past the struggles with pop-obsession, the desire to think outside the box. There are some classic-sounding Weezer tunes, too. And thankfully, the band only got better from here.
- “Can’t Knock the Hustle”
- “High as a Kite”
- “I’m Just Being Honest”
- “Too Many Thoughts in My Head”
January 29, 2021
OK Human is Weezer performing, writing, and recording at their best since the nineties, full stop. And it makes sense why it’s that way.
The project is genuinely ambitious, which is where Rivers excels. The piano and orchestral arrangements—still with a rock drum sound—were a genius move in the band’s attempt to recreate the glory of Pet Sounds from 1966.
It’s got a lot going for it as an ambitious-sounding pop record in 2021, but functions as a concept album as well. The entire album is about technology and humanity, and the songs are very introspective. Essentially, enough narrative and sonic drive make it engaging and cathartic upon multiple listens.
Hopefully, the band will continue to explore piano-driven and orchestral-friendly productions, as they’ve frequently succeeded under these circumstances. And, generally, Rivers seems to shine as a songwriter with ambitious yet focused production, and uninhibited instrumental palettes for his songs.
The enthralling album art by Swedish artist Mattias Adolfsson helps, too.
- “All My Favorite Songs”
- “Grapes of Wrath”
- “Playing My Piano”
May 7, 2021
Van Weezer was a good enough idea. The passing of Eddie Van Halen warranted a tribute or nod. Eddie, specifically, was one of the most foundational guitarists in rock music from the late seventies and all of the eighties.
The opening track is compelling, and it’s a good tune: “Hero” was well-received upon its release. Still, it’s par-for-the-course Weezer pop-rock, with an uplifting method and anthemic moments. Much of the work is on the same level as the best of the White Album.
The song “Beginning of the End” is the bright spot, and a cursory look at the liner notes gives you a reason to pause: Billy Joel is a co-songwriter on the track. And it features guitar solos, played with gusto—even if it’s only a few seconds long.
“Shiela Can Do It” is another fine tune that best portrays Weezer doing what they have always done well. But it’s another anti-guitar-solo track, very minimal, even compared to Blue‘s standard.
“Precious Metal Girl” was a decent track, but the hidden song on the backend sounds like a cheap imitation of a jam. Some of the songs sound more like Oasis than anything.
But it’s a setback that Weezer did not get more into their guitar work, especially given the Van Halen tribute, as well as the guitar work present on Blue and Pinkerton. It’s not a guitar-focused record, but rather a solid pop-rock record.
At the end of the day, this is one of the better Weezer albums. The moments where Rivers is working with other songwriters tend to be the best. It interpolates four metal tracks without much generosity or invention, potentially falling short of the impossible standard set by the band’s shadow—and the project’s name.
- “Beginning of the End”
- “I Need Some of That”
- “All The Good Ones”
- “Sheila Can Do It”
- “Precious Metal Girl”
No matter what critics say, Weezer has always aimed for modern and classic-sounding rock music with a universal appeal, and that is on full display at the start and end of their discography—all without sacrificing style. Perfect for an addition to a playlist of rock songs to smoke to, a playlist to skate to while learning from the best, or emo stoners expanding their horizons.
Self-indulgent? Maybe, but it was never mindless.