‘The Black Album’ album review
album: The Black Album
genre: rock & roll
release date: March 1, 2019
star rating: five out of five
review by Levi Yager
The Black Album may be the black sheep of Weezer’s color albums, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great time. The new record is one of Weezer’s poppiest outings as a whole, without forsaking their rock roots. This dynamic carves out a unique place for The Black Album in the band’s discography that definitely showcases their musical versatility.
“Can’t Knock the Hustle” gets the party started and quickly lays down a funky groove, complete with thumpin’ bass, a backing choir and some horns here and there. It’s a simple, lighthearted jam that primes the listener for additional enjoyable tunes to come. That being said, this first track is also probably a good litmus test for your taste in the rest of The Black Album; if you don’t at all like “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” it might be hard for you to embrace the later tracks. Yet, I think if people check their expectations at the door and go into this album with an open mind, they’ll be happily surprised by what they hear – even if it takes a little getting used to for some listeners.
“Zombie Bastards” is next on the record, and it’s just a dumb, fun song about killin’ those freaking zombie bastards. It’s ridiculous, and it works. Not to mention, it’s undeniably catchy. “Zombie Bastards” combines acoustic guitar with keys and electronic elements, which gives the song unique character.
My all-time favorite song on The Black Album is number four, “Living In L.A.” It has an up-tempo, head-bobbin’ beat that carries the track, and its insanely infectious chorus takes center stage. “Living In L.A.” is one of those songs you actually wouldn’t mind hearing more than once in a day, and it’ll get you singing along after just one spin.
There are a few mellower cuts as well, which flesh out the record nicely. Of these, I’d consider “Byzantine” the best. Ninth on the album, “Byzantine” includes neat, little lead guitar flourishes and light percussion – in addition to some falsetto cooing in the vocals. It’s about being love-struck in a relationship that’s “only complicated if you want it to be.” The opening melodic hook of the chorus isn’t easily forgotten, and it’s overall a chill, whimsical track that has perfect placement in the album’s song ordering.
One of the strongest qualities The Black Album boasts is that each song has its own individual feel; there’s not a dull moment to be found. Weezer also involves quite a bit of keys throughout the album, which are well-utilized, and there are more than a few sections with prominent synthesizers. Lyrically, it never gets too serious, but that serves the band’s general approach with this album pretty well.
The hilarious, ultra-cool, last track is titled “California Snow.” It’s a big, fat, sparkly diamond of a finale that features “the definition of flow” and some Ric Flair-esque “woo’s.” “California Snow” is probably the most electronic cut on the album, and it includes a significant amount of piano, too. At its core, it’s a track with a sick beat and a super-singable chorus that puts a memorable mark on the record.
Clearly, The Black Album is dessert; it’s covered in a shiny, sugary glaze of pop-leaning production that goes down sticky-sweet. It’s a pleasure to experience, and it’s up to you however guilty a pleasure that is. As for me, I have no shame indulging in the treats The Black Album has to offer. Weezer stays true to their identity as a band and simultaneously brings new, entertaining hits to the table. The Black Album might not be my top Weezer album ever – even among the color albums – but it’s definitely one I’ll be coming back to for seconds.