By Derek Swartzlander, Staff Writer
Weezer has been on a roll. Spearheaded by the relentless creativity of frontman and songwriter Rivers Cuomo, the band released the fantastic orchestral album OK Human in January 2021. Just five months later, they released Van Weezer,a mediocre love letter to heavy metal, and participated in 2021’s Hella Mega Tour where they played across America with co-headliners Fall Out Boy and Green Day.
Weezer’s prolificity has continued into 2022 with their “SZNZ” project, in which an EP will be released on the first day of every season with each EP representing the mood of each season.
SZNZ: Spring is the first of these efforts. Lyrically, the EP focuses on nature and rebirth, with the childlike innocence of the Beach Boys whose 1966 album Pet Sounds has a profound influence on the band’s sound. Sonically, the EP is stereotyped by acoustic instrumentation during verses, and Weezer’s trademark crunchy guitar sound during choruses. The album’s production is clean and modern.
The EP begins with “Opening Night.” The song takes its melody from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Spring” and lyrically illustrates the band’s love for Shakespeare: “We may be quite ordinary/But we can step inside of his immortal mind/We gain some empathy, some perspicacity/It happens every time, he makes me want to write.” It’s refreshing to hear pop music with unapologetically nerdy yet mature lyrics.
Another standout track is “Angel’s On Vacation,” which begins as a bright rock number akin to the band’s earlier hits like “Buddy Holly,” but gives way to an acoustic bridge, where Cuomo displays the otherworldly vulnerability of his voice. This is a highlight of the EP.
“A Little Bit of Love,” which is the EP’s only single, is a miss. The chorus is catchy, but the lyrics are uninspired. “Garden of Eden” has the opposite problem with interesting verse lyrics, such as “And I haven’t felt this good since Velcro sneakers came along,” but a forgettable chorus.
The ever-catchy “The Sound of Drums” reflects the rebirth of spring – and perhaps the world – with its topical lyrics: “It’s good to see my old friends/Man, it’s been so long.” The song ends with an awesome whispered lyric.
The EP closes with “Wild at Heart,” which follows the album’s conventional sound but ends with a surprise heavy metal breakdown that hopefully signals the sound of the upcoming SZNZ EPs.
Spring is an interesting, but flawed start to the SZNZ project. It has easily singable melodies, interesting instrumentation and several catchy choruses, but there are too many forgettable tracks to make it a classic. As a hardcore Weezer fan, it is a welcome addition to their discography despite its flaws. I also recommend the album to alternative rock fans, but casual music listeners would do better to listen to 1994’s self-titled “Blue Album,” 2016’s self-titled “White Album” or 2021’s endlessly re-listenable OK Human. While it may not be the rose I expected, I hope that SZNZ: Spring is the seed that will blossom into a beautiful SZNZ tree.