Album Review: Weezer — OK Human

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 at 2:27 PM
Album Review: Weezer — OK Human by Teddy Rankin

Weezer, the legendary pop-rock outfit fronted by the ageless Rivers Cuomo, has been reinventing themselves for over two decades.  

Their adaptability and endless experimentation has kept the “Island in the Sun” rockers relevant longer than they have any business sticking around — “hip hip.” The through line, however, is that everything they release is incredibly simple and catchy: it’s sugar cereal. In that tradition, their latest album, “OK Human,” trades electric guitar power chords for orchestral string accompaniment, resulting in a satisfying cinematic experience.

While not a scholar in the art of Weezer, the hits and early work resonates. Personally, I’ve always turned to Fountains of Wayne to scratch my 2000s rock itch. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Weezer, there is simply too much to analyze. With over 14 hours of music, it’s like starting a show on Netflix and realizing there are 25 seasons.

“OK Human” boasts an elevated tone with its 38-piece orchestra recorded at Abbey Road. At first glance, Cuomo’s vocal style and goofy lyrics, like, “My umbrella makes me look just like the Morton girl / Splishsplish splash,” seem unworthy of such classical instrumentation, but after sitting with the album a while, listeners will grow to appreciate the relatability. This record seeks to validate the common struggles that we often write off as unimportant, such as feelings of inadequacy, overwhelming technology and coping with isolation.

Meanwhile, a track that could be easily transposed to Weezer’s previous rock stylings, “Aloo Gobi” proves they haven’t lost an ounce of “catch.” With lyrics like “I tried to raise an eyebrow, it weighed too much,” and “Same old dull routines, same Aloo Gobi,” Cuomo describes how life’s repetitiveness can lead to apathy. While his rock star lifestyle may seem more interesting than average, Cuomo is nevertheless susceptible to monotony, heightened by the isolation associated with the pandemic era. The songwriter leaves his audience with an uplifting bridge, proclaiming, “You are not alone.”

A few songs later, “Numbers” is an anthem for self-comparison and that universal feeling of inadequacy in the digital age. Cuomo points out that everything in life has been reduced down to numbers, singing, “They say that you’re too short to join the team / And your IQ’s too low for poetry / Numbers are out to get you.” It is especially easy to fall into the numbers trap in quarantine with social media playing a larger role in our interpersonal relationships. No matter how many followers or likes you have, Weezer articulates the absurdity of our imagined social hierarchy: “I’m a one, I’m a zero / In the end, does it matter?”

Then, on “Playing My Piano,” Cuomo shares his personal strategy for getting through these tough times. “I haven’t washed my hair in three weeks / I should get back to these Zoom interviews,” he relatably pens as he describes how he gets lost in the music. Even if your coping mechanism is not songwriting, we all need something to get lost in. The LA-based songsmith, blissfully unaware of his surroundings, sings, “Kim-Jong could blow up my city, I’d never know.” As the Eleanor Rigby-esque orchestration fades away, listeners get a glimpse into Cuomo’s process without all the glossy production: just a man and 88 keys.

“OK Human” is 30 minutes of excellently produced music, made for easy listening. If you are like me, slightly unfamiliar with Weezer’s discography, this album is a great entry point. While the pandemic postponed the band’s plans for their mega tour with Fall Out Boy and Green Day, this sweet relatable record is a perfect alternative direction for the future rock and roll hall of famers.

Teddy Rankin is the Music Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: album review

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