Words by Hannah Fitzpatrick
In December 2017, Twitter user @weezerafrica posted a tweet to Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer of Grammy Award winning rock band Weezer, with a simple request: “it’s about time you bless the rains down in africa.” Months later, the group finally did by releasing a cover of Toto’s “Africa” in summer 2018, and to much success – the song reached number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in August 2018, becoming the band’s first number one single since “Pork and Beans” in 2008.
Now as a way of promoting their upcoming release of the “Black Album” in March 2019, the band has dropped their surprise “Teal Album” full of cover songs from artists like Eurythmics, The Turtles and Michael Jackson. Along with keeping the trolling alive, “Teal Album” is unexpectedly genius by staying true to the original songs while putting their own “Weezer” twist to them.
The LP starts off with, as expected, their cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Meme-status aside, this cover is on point. The band is able to meticulously replicate this song up to the recognizable synths in the bridge, while also making it their own by adding epic guitar riffs and drum solos. However, the one aspect of this track that could have been executed better is Cuomo’s vocals. The overall style of “Africa” fits his vocal style like a glove, sounding melodic and mellow throughout. The chorus is another story. The original “Africa” has a powerful, ballad-like chorus that is hard to forget, but in this version, it feels like Cuomo is holding back. This, in addition to the heavy layering of vocals, makes what would be a legendary chorus into something bland and unimpressive.
The next two songs, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), are a step up in the karaoke game. Through both songs, it is pretty clear that the band is trying to keep their covers as accurate to the original version as possible, but what stands out is how well they execute it. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” showcases Cuomo’s vocal range, with delicate highs in the verses to deep lows in the chorus. The lack of layered vocals throughout the song also helps Cuomo stand out from the groovy guitar riffs and synthesizers, making it an overall fun track. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is arguably one of the best tracks on the album. Right from the beginning, this song goes hard – it starts off with the original version’s famous synthesizer riff, then with powerful vocals layer by layer, which again shows off Cuomo’s vocal ability. Complete with a catchy guitar and synth solo near the end, this track’s overall style screams Weezer, and is pleasantly addictive.
With every high point in an album, however, comes its lows, and “Teal Album” is no exception to this. Their rendition of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” is more gray than anticipated. Though the guitar solo in the second verse adds a nice blues-rock touch to an otherwise poppy song, Cuomo’s voice sounds monotone throughout and does not feel like it fits the general mood of the track. Their version of TLC’s “No Scrubs” is laughable – though it is a bold move for the band to cover a song completely outside of their genre while still adding heavy guitar and drum riffs as their “Weezer” twist, this track makes you want to listen to the original song 10 times in a row in order to make up for the three minutes and ten seconds of utter atrocity.
Overall, Teal Album’s focus on covers of big ‘80s hits feels like a missed opportunity to teach new listeners about the band’s beginnings. But the purpose of this LP is not to teach us about the band – it’s to keep us talking about them. And for that, Weezer deserves a round of applause.
‘Weezer (The Teal Album)’
© January 24, 2019
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