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Weezer: Weezer (The Green Album)

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After a multimillion-selling debut, Weezer fell hard with 1996's Pinkerton, an underrated album that roughed up the group's glistening pop-rock sound while unexpectedly delving into singer Rivers Cuomo's troubled psyche. Years of turmoil, hiatus, and frustration followed, but then came the surprise: Through sheer force of good will, Weezer accidentally began to develop the grassroots following it had never built as one of 1994's overnight sensations. Maybe it's the dire, dour state of contemporary commercial radio, but fans suddenly began to clamor for the band they'd long ago abandoned, heightening anticipation for Weezer's self-titled comeback (a.k.a. The Green Album). Modest in both lyrical ambition and length—it doesn't even breach the 29-minute mark—the Ric Ocasek-produced disc is stripped down to the barest essence of big-boned rock riffs, with no unnecessary extra choruses and none of Pinkerton's odd, soul-baring odes to Asian women and lesbians. The result feels a bit repetitive and perfunctory the first time through, but it's resolutely unpretentious and airtight throughout, without a wasted moment or false move. The immensely ingratiating "Photograph," with its hand-claps and "ooh-ooh-ooh-oohs," is likely The Green Album's finest moment, getting in and out in a near-perfect 2:19, but it's hard to find fault with any of its counterparts. Pinkerton was unfairly maligned, and continues to be unfairly maligned by Cuomo himself, but The Green Album nonetheless finds Weezer sounding revitalized in every way. Just in time for summer.