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Smooth Bananas: ‘OK Human’

Weezer has had their ins and outs in the spotlight, the creative vision of Rivers Cuomo usually harpooning through any direct criticism. “OK Human” is no different despite its aural change. 

The album, produced by award-winning producer Jake Sinclair, is the 14th studio album from the alt-rock band. Sinclair is also known for his work with bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Pink. The album has a total of 12 tracks of varying lengths and runs for approximately 30 minutes. The album was released on Jan. 29, 2021. 

Old fans of the band Weezer will note that the band has had a wild progression of styles and this album is certainly a step into a new direction. Rivers Cuomo, the lead vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and songwriter of the band, has an electric energy about him that can only be described as penetrating. Weezer is one of those bands that seems to get a bad rap every other album. They release one album and they are the stars of the show. They release the next and suddenly, they are worse than Imagine Dragons at Coachella. However, this seasick criticism has never stopped them. Rivers Cuomo’s drive and ambition cuts through any negative feedback and continues pushing Weezer to be Weezer. 

Rivers Cuomo’s inspirations stretch from Van Halen to Jay-Z but in this album, he and Weezer decide to employ a 38-piece orchestra and honestly, it’s not a bad sound. I’m sure there are many who cringe at Weezer trying to dip their feet into symphonic rock but even when Cuomo is writing for an orchestra, his music still sounds like Weezer. It’s another album in a series of albums over the past year that owe their entire allegiance and existence to pandemic living. The lyrical content is affected by the woes of loneliness created by isolation and the weird balancing point between going out in public with a mask on and seeing your fellow man at a distance. 

Cuomo’s style in the past has been harsh alt rock but this album is certainly not that. He trades out the power chords and guitar doubling vocals with luscious strings and blaring horns to create a more intimate sound. Cuomo proves he is just as at home shoegazing at pedals with blaring guitars as he is singing a wistful ballad at the piano. Regardless of what instrument he writes for, the Weezer sound is immortal. Not even a professional orchestra can break the Weezer mold when given Rivers Cuomo originals. The songs play on existing anxieties in new costumes. For example, “Grapes of Wrath” combines the head crushing mundanity of repeating the same day over and over in lockdown with the sobering take-in of literature like a high school junior cramming for exams. The album somehow captures the same Weezer and a completely new one all at the same time. 

Ultimately, Weezer’s new take on their own style is a welcome one. It creates some much-needed refreshment for a band that has sometimes been pigeonholed as “those alt rock” guys. “OK Human” receives a B rating. 

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