(Atlantic Records, out Thu 24 Jan 2019)
The temptation to do a covers album must always be strong for a band. You get to lark about with your favourite songs. None of that pesky, soul-scraping, time-consuming songwriting stuff. No heart-in-mouth when you let your precious babies out into the world for the first time. It’s someone else’s kids. You’re just babysitting. Who cares if they end up scratched and bruised with sick down themselves? Well, maybe the people they mean something to…
Credit to Weezer then for being responsible childminders, who return these little rugrats reasonably unharmed. How earnestly they’ve gone about the task! Not for them wacky experimentation or an onanistic splurge of their own artistic revision. They near as dammit replicate the originals – instrumentation, production, the works. Rivers Cuomo’s voice isn’t up to some of the numbers here, but whatever treatment they’ve put on the vocals, it’s tipped them slightly into impersonation. They’re paying honest homage.
In the process, they venture where no band ought to tread and kinda get away with it. The affection with which they handle Toto’s Africa ought to put a smile on any face. Take On Me‘s pop purity is left untouched. Their Everybody Wants To Rule The World won’t cause the same paroxysm Robbie Williams’ version just has done. Even Billie Jean, somehow, turns out OK. You can mock the entire concept of a Weezer covers album, but not the tribute band fidelity of what they achieve.
Really, none of this should come as a surprise. They covered Paranoid Android – a fearsome prospect – and came away unscathed in 2011. They show that same attention of detail here with, say, the backing vocals on Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) which reach high levels of Lennoxishness.
For older listeners, there’s The Turtles’ Happy Together, one they felt safe rocking up a bit, Mr Blue Sky and Stand By Me. Paranoid‘s an odd stylistic fit, but blimey, they do a fair imitation of Ozzy and the lads. The only one to really make you spit out your tea is No Scrubs. Rock band does R ‘n’ B is very Live Lounge c. 2006.
Raise an eyebrow if you like. At least they’ve slipped it out as a throwaway prelude to an album proper, rather than in the expectation the world sit up and take note. It’s good fun. You wouldn’t kick ’em off the karaoke. You might even listen twice.