Weezer – Weezer (The Teal Album) (Crush Music/Atlantic) review
Is their covers album good fun…or a cash grab?
After being pestered by fans, Weezer released their rendition of Toto’s “Africa” in 2018, and surprisingly, things exploded all over social media. Suddenly, the band was back en vogue – and why not? Their last platinum album was 2005’s Make Believe. To capitalize on that wave of popularity, the group shocked their faithful by dropping an entire album of like-minded covers on January 23, known as “The Teal Album.”
Here’s the thing – their cover of “Africa” was a joke, right? Instead of sounding like Weezer, it’s Weezer trying to sound like Toto, which is fine for one song. But, an entire album of this? Hmmm… that’s what’s wrong here.
So, they do Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” But, it’s so damned close to the original (including the keyboard and chugging beat), that if you were not really paying attention, you might not know the difference. This is the case for just about everything here.
The track listing is incredibly deliberate too – it’s stuff all the kids know, because they’ve been fodder for memes, but the versions are lifeless. There’s zero passion here, it’s just tepid readings of things like a-ha’s “Take on Me” and Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” The worst part is – they don’t even sound like they’re having fun.
ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” is possibly the worst of the entire record – I want to jump through the speakers and kick their ass. Why? Because, if you cranked up the guitars and made it an actual Weezer version of this song, and then actually sang it like you enjoyed it, it would probably work. Instead, this tossed-off performance just sounds like bad karaoke.
The only exception here is their take on TLC’s “No Scrubs” – it’s the only one that really crosses successfully into the absurd, and that’s what makes it work. But, “Billie Jean”? Puleeeeze.
The album ends with a banal run-through of the shop-worn “Stand By Me” – it will have you begging for Biz Markie or Sam Kinison to take over.
I know, it’s supposed to be a joke. But, it’s not funny. The band doesn’t sound like they’re laughing. Instead, Weezer put together a compilation of over-baked, super-obvious cover songs that are more akin to what they’ve become as a band over the last several albums – too slick and not spontaneous.
Recording a covers album usually means you’ve run out of ideas. But, through the years, there’s been a surprising number of good ones – from the obvious, like David Bowie’s Pin Ups and John Lennon’s Rock n’ Roll, to more obscure ones, like Marc Cohn’s Listening Booth: 1970, or even Mandy Moore’s Coverage. These albums work for different reasons – Cohn’s is great because it’s music filtered through his distinctive voice and acoustic guitar, while Moore’s is a hoot because it’s a teen idol covering a music geek’s playlist, and having a blast doing it.
Weezer’s album is none of the above. They’ve certainly succeeded in one way – it’s assured that, just like most of the current pop music, The Teal Album will quickly be forgotten. —Tony Peters