Following on from the saddening passing of the legendary guitarist Eddie van Halen in October of last year, Weezer have decided to pay homage to the incomparable and pioneering musician and his band Van Halen with their new album, taking influence from the iconic music of the hard rock band, even going so far as naming it after them, christening it Van Weezer.
The album is the fifteenth instalment from the American rock band, succeeding their last album OK Human released in January of this year. Despite this extensive discography, it is still a bold move to take so directly from one of the most beloved bands whose iconicity is so great that it practically personifies a whole era in rock music. As such, it is fair to say the onus was on Weezer to justify their move. And indeed, for what it is, the album is a good one.
Hero begins Van Weezer with big open guitar sounds which cut out as short sharp vocal lines ride over a drum beat – a songwriting technique used extensively throughout the album. The song deals with the mature idea of realising one is not the person one thought one would be when pondering growing up as a child, while every adolescent and indeed a lot of passionate music fans will identify with the ideas of being ‘an outcast’ and ‘walking alone’ that are described in the song. The same can be said for All The Good Ones, with singletons undoubtedly being familiar with the feeling that ‘all the good ones are gone’.
The most obvious mimicking of EVH comes on End of The Game, with squealing guitar, achieved using Van Halen’s famous tapping harmonic technique, being heard in the song’s introduction. As with Blue Dream and Sheila Can Do It, I Need Some of That has a fantastic heavy and dramatic start, while the lyrics of the latter serve as a reminiscence of the teenage angst (‘we’re never gonna grow up’) known to be alleviated by rock music alone, depicting how after ‘listening to Aerosmith’, one may begin ‘dreaming of my escape’, and that ‘now I’m plugging in to a Marshall stack, I can be anything I want’.
1 More Hit deals with another mature and this time very serious topic; addiction. The heaviness of the rhythm guitar matches the weighty topic while the lead guitar gives the song an edginess fit for it. The only ballad comes at the end of the ten-track album in the form of Precious Metal Girl which remains acoustic throughout.
There are definitely good things to be said about Van Weezer. However, you’ll be hard pushed to find many a muso who wish to revisit the sound of noughties rock; many being relieved to have seen the music die out with the decade. Weezer have kept teenage rock alive however and their latest album offers a good bout of it.