There should be some sort of signal — maybe two hands making a “W” — that could be beamed across the world Batman-style to alert one-time Weezer fans that it’s time to check in with Rivers Cuomo and the guys again.
Now would be a good time to fire that thing up, because “Weezer” (Crush Music / Atlantic) takes some of the sunniest, melody-driven parts of its eponymous debut (better known as “The Blue Album”) and some of the creative writing lyrics of “Pinkerton” to create one of the prolific band’s best albums in years.
Weezer has done its share of stretching its sound and trying new things in the past two decades or so. Not on this “Weezer” album, destined to be called “The White Album” by fans. Instead, the band sharpens all its hooks and hones the lyrics to potent, graspable ideas with imagery as vivid as possible. (That’s not to say it’s simple. In “Thank God for Girls,” Cuomo describes the Adam and Eve story as “God took a rib from Adam, ground it up in a centrifuge machine, mixed it with cardamom and cloves, microwaved it on the popcorn setting.” Darwin and Sisyphus get name-checked in “Wind in Our Sail.”)
Cuomo does not rap here. Lil Wayne makes no guest appearance. Instead, we get the practically perfect “California Kids,” an optimistic anthem packed with Beach Boys harmonies and grinding guitars tinged with enough knowing regret to make it even more powerful. “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing” somehow joins Beach Boys sweetness on the chorus to The Beatles’ dramatic rock on the verses without sounding too dated or studied. “Do You Wanna Get High” walks the line between excitement and danger, both lyrically and sonically through a wall of snarling guitars.
“Weezer” finds the band as sharp as ever, returning to past glories to discover new ones.