Weezer

Weezer (DGC/Interscope)

If not for an album called Pinkerton, Weezer might be regarded simply as longtime purveyors of goofy Top 40 singles. But with that scrappy 1996 follow-up to their smash-hit debut, "The Blue Album," Rivers Cuomo and company made one of the most beloved indie albums ever released on a major label. Then, as we all know, the band dropped off the radar, only to return as whitewashed modern rockers. Since then, Weezer has ruled the radio and MTV with instant anthems like "Hash Pipe," "Beverly Hills," and, most recently, "Pork and Beans." That last song is the first single off Weezer's sixth release (and its third to technically be self-titled), "The Red Album." The track handily skewers the same youth culture the group has been catering to for years. "Pork and Beans" may be obscenely catchy, but its immaculate structure belies this shaggy dog of an album. "Heart Songs" details the progress of Cuomo's omnivorous influences before he started Weezer (from Gordon Lightfoot to Slayer to Nirvana), whereas "Cold Dark World" is overwrought and overproduced, and the epic closer "The Angel and the One" aims for Hallmark arena rock. Most fascinating is "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)," an ambitious genre-crossed odyssey that rivals the infectious charms of Weezer's cartoony nuggets like "Dreamin'" and "Troublemaker." "The Red Album" is certainly no Pinkerton, but its weirder parts are as admirable as Cuomo's bewildering stamina.

 
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