Last month, when Weezer released “Beach Boys,” the second track from their 11th studio album Pacific Daydream, I wrote a post that speculated how swaths of their longtime fans would react to the song, with its drastic, pop-leaning shift in sound. The last time bandleader Rivers Cuomo experimented this heavily with their supposed identity was eight years ago with the release of Raditude. Despite average reviews, the album was maligned by legions of fans. As a Weezer devotee myself, I readily admit it’s the album I listen to the least: It has a brilliant opening track, but after the first few songs, it becomes incredibly disjointed, with a few head-scratchers. (I’ll just never get the Lil Wayne collaboration.) To me, it was an attempt to become more modern that fell much too short.
By contrast, however, Pacific Daydream is this decade’s Weezer upgrade that actually manages to hit the mark. Produced by Butch Walker, who worked with Weezer before and with artists like Pink, Panic! At The Disco, and Katy Perry, Daydream has replaced the standard power chords with lush instruments, subtle synths and percussion, and high-pitched vocal samples. The sunny, breezy pop melodies are underlined by Cuomo’s wistful tone, presenting a lyrical theme of isolation and loneliness. Though it may not have the nostalgic sound of yesteryear, the album still retains the classic Weezer feel of a band that lives on the fringe of what’s currently popular in music, while remaining in a category all its own. In “Beach Boys,” Cuomo sings: “I’m a remarkable man / I’ll keep you trying new things / I’ll keep you young.” After a thoroughly enjoyable album like this one, I’m very interested to see how Weezer will continue to evolve.