ON THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER, WEEZER RELEASED THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF SZNZ, AN AMBITIOUS FOUR PART SERIES INSPIRED BY THE SHIFT IN SEASONS
BY MADELYN DAWSON
In 1994, Weezer’s debut hit big. Dropping just over a month after Kurt Cobain’s death, Weezer’s self-titled album was free of flannel-shrouded sweaty grunge bombast, but rather, was characterized by a sensible hard rock texture, funky bass lines, and drum beats paired with o beat, down to earth lyrics.
More commonly known as their Blue Album, the LP featured a cover as unpretentious as its sound, featuring the four bandmates standing plainly in front of a solid light blue background. The album went multi-platinum, and hits “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So” hit the U.S. and U.K. Top 40, and remain rock radio staples today.
Weezer had a charm that was equal parts relatable and exhilarating. They looked like ordinary guy’s nerds even. Their lead singer had studied literature at Harvard University. Their lyrics featured self-loathing, hopeless romanticism, and humorous, anachronistic references. Their emotionality was subtle at times, and melodramatic at others, but always came through as authentic.
With 15 full length LPs, nine EPs, a Christmas album, a video album, and a Grammy under their belt, it is clear that the band’s down-to-earth sensibilities do not preclude their creative restlessness.
Their lineup, largely unchanged, currently consists of lead vocalist and keyboard player Rivers Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Scott Shriner, and drummer Patrick Wilson.
Rock music in 2023 certainly takes a different form than it did almost three decades ago when Weezer was born, yet the band continues to evolve and expand it’s ambitions for today’s audience. Their most recent project, titled SZNZ, may be their most ambitious yet, featuring a collection of four EPs released during each season of this past year (the first, Spring, dropped on March 20). Their goal was to create songs that sonically and emotionally represented the unique experience of living through each season.
In an interview with Audacy, Cuomo said about the project, “Spring is optimism, Summer is anger, Autumn is anxiety, and Winter is sadness”
Though an oversimplification of the intricacies of the releases, listeners can immerse themselves in these distinct sonic landscapes with each EP. Fans were gifted plenty of quintessential Weezer-isms to look for throughout the project, including a song on Winter called “I Want a Dog,” which Cuomo promoted by using artificial intelligence to generate a second set of lyrics or a Vivaldi sample under lyrics about Cuomo’s love of Shakespeare on Spring’s “Opening Night.”
From Cuomo’s sharp-witted Twitter presence to the band’s continued focus on the emotions that their alternative sound can provoke, Weezer is a band that has retained a level of artistic integrity and unfeigned authenticity somewhat unconventional for a career of their length though, as we’ve learned over 30 years, it may be unwise to expect the band to follow conventions at all.