Album Review: Weezer – Do You Wanna Get High?

Review by Kelly O

Even after all these years, all it takes is a grungy riff and a hint of love-struck resignation in Rivers Cuomo’s voice to send two decades worth of memories flooding back. Goosebumps rise and hearts flutter at the mere illusion to Pinkerton; that scratchy, petulant, stubborn little masterpiece released in the winter of ’96. “Do You Want To Get High?” is not essential (the title alone should tell you that), but it is a fearsome reminder of a sonic signature that Weezer perfected many moons ago.

Goading, contorted, insecure, sweet and sardonic; Rivers’ great gift was always his ability to say so little and convey so much. Hearts break and friendships are cemented in the fragile (yet strangely acerbic) undulations of his retiring vocal. Weezer’s music invites emotional investment. They play with the subconscious; teasing out both sorrow and hope with simple tonal distortions, turning silly little throwaways into great love songs.

“Do You Wanna Get High?” is utterly inconsequential. Read the lyric sheet and scoff, but when the chords clatter and harmonies soar it feels like an ode to something eternal: a childish friendship that has survived into middle age, a long suffering romance or, perhaps, a scene that keeps on recurring over the years – two strangers at a party connecting over a shared desire to escape. More likely, it’s just a cute joke; a throwaway thought that entered Rivers mind one night – a cool title for a trivial single. After all, this isn’t a complicated business, sometimes a zippy hook, an endearing melody and a snappy name is all that’s required to make great pop music.

However, that just won’t do. Weezer thrive in the grey area between the inane and sublime, the mundane and the intensely meaningful – teasing this ambiguity for all it’s worth. Since the glory days of the Blue, Green and Pinkerton albums, there’s been a sense that Weezer have been missing something primal – a frenzied angst, an aggressive subversion, a hint of nihilism (who can say?) – some dark undercurrent that made their cute and clever songwriting indispensible.

“Do You Wanna Get High?” doesn’t rediscover this lost x-factor (that would be too much to ask), instead it forges a bond across decades and picks away at the scabby flesh of some very old wounds. The unsigned Weezer have served up an irreverent echo of ancient brilliance; a lovely little single to add to their ever expanding collection.

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