Remember that band? Fun dot. Now relegated to the dustbin of music history. But not Weezer, a fun band celebrating 30 years next year, and in a bit of a surprise, released their 14th studio album today (Jan. 29) in OK Human, a Weezer album, that isn’t. So it’s totally a Weezer album.
An album not borne from the coronavirus lockdown but finished because of it, OK Human finishes ahead of the forth coming Van Weezer album now slated for May. Weezer originally intended Van Weezer for release last year but the lockdown turned the band’s attention to OK Human (Yes a nod towards Radiohead’s OK Computer), an album singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo hinted at in February 2019.
Band co-founder Cuomo is an eccentric sort. See “Undone – The Sweater Song” or “Beverly Hills” or their remake of Toto’s “Africa” which brought both bands additional notoriety. And, never ones to take themselves too seriously, Weezer – consisting of Cuomo and and co-founder Patrick Wilson on drums, guitarist Brian Bell who joined in 1993 and newcomer Scott Shriner, since 2001 on bass – employs an orchestra for OK Human, puts the heavier alternative rockers on the sideline for now (Van Weezer apparently takes up that mantle) and pretty much has fun with some simple melodies and rhythms while keeping a pop focus with clever lyrics.
Weezer OK Human Album Review
A pretty slick album of 12 songs in 30 minutes, OK Human opens with “All My Favorite Songs” a slower track, not necessarily sad but more likely to induce a chuckle. Funny lyrics that probably ring a little too close to home for some: “I love parties, but I don’t go / Then I feel bad when I stay home / ‘Cause I need a friend when I take a walk.”
The band posted the following in regards to images seen on the song’s video, “OK Human was made at a time when humans-playing-instruments was a thing of the past. All we could do is look back on ancient times when humans really mattered and when the dark tech-takeover fantasy didn’t exist.”
Hmmm, sounds a bit familiar.
Well, in this story no one finds a strange device that when touched gives forth a sound. Instead, Cuomo laments over the technology and screen time as you’ll hear about deeper into the album with a song called “Screen.” But back to the front, “Aloo Gobi” and “Grapes of Wrath” kind of melt into each other, an intentional design, as the former ends where the latter begins but both have a simple, pop melody.
Quickly it becomes apparent though, Weezer has laid out OK Human, in many respects, as one long song without breaks between many of the tracks. Similar to a musical that ends one scene at the completion of a song and begins the next while diving into the next tune. The slower “Numbers” resumes the piano that closes “Grapes of Wratch” and along with the accompanying violins begins a contemplative feel resulting in one of the best songs off the album.
“Playing My Piano” does take a different direction with a definitive pause from “Numbers” but thanks to the orchestral maneuvers, OK Human definitely feels more and more like a musical soundtrack and with these lyrics: “My wife is upstairs / My kids are upstairs / And I haven’t washed my hair in three weeks” you’d probably be in for a fun dot night.
An odd duck in “Mirror Image” with some cutting in and out of the sound in the final 15 seconds and at just more than a minute long could easily close out “Playing My Piano” and if you don’t pay attention it sounds like it does. Not much to this one.
The fun, catchy and upbeat “Screens” starts the second-half in classic Weezer style song making. The longest track at nearly four minutes, “Bird With a Broken Wing” dials the tempo back a bit inside a simple structure with plenty of violins. A pretty melody at times but you might get bored after a few spins. “Dead Roses” starts off with woodwinds and horns, then the strings enter and ultimately deliver the adult contemporary sounds your parents enjoyed.
The 24 second (what is this for?) filler “Everything Happens for a Reason” leads straight into the rather enjoyable “Here Comes the Rain” another signature Weezer pop song. OK Human ends with “La Brea Tar Pits” an homage to the museum and area of Los Angeles surrounded by tar pits. Despite the nostalgia factor for me and my travels there as a kid, the song would probably resonate better, especially that sugary sweet chorus, for that age level.
No doubt, unfamiliar territory for Weezer as they think out of the box, a hallmark for the band. So really OK Human falls pretty much in line with everything Weeer has done in their 30 years. Cuomo said the inspiration for OK Human came from a 1970s album called Nilsson Sings Newman.
“It’s all piano-based, but it has a ton of orchestration,” Cuomo said in an interview with somebody else. “It’s just gorgeous melodies and extremely eccentric lyrics.”
Well, there’s that word again. Eccentric. And, I don’t know about gorgeous but certainly mostly fun.
Weezer OK Human Track List:
1. All My Favorite Songs
2. Aloo Gobi
3. Grapes Of Wrath
5. Playing My Piano
6. Mirror Image
8. Bird With A Broken Wing
9. Dead Roses
10. Everything Happens For A Reason
11. Here Comes The Rain
12. La Brea Tar Pits