Weezer – Pacific Daydream

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Man, it must be really hard to be a Weezer fan. Basically all their albums after the 2001 Green Album was, to put it lightly subpar. However, three years ago they dropped Everything Will Be Alright in the End – an album they needed, a true return to form that filled fans with hope and optimism. Last year, the band released The White Album – one of the best (if not the best) albums of their career. A mix of power pop and surf rock that came out just so cool and effortless it was impossible not to fall in love with that record.

So here we are in 2017, and before the long-awaited, apparently dark and experimental Black Album Weezer decided to fuck things up once again. Pacific Daydream represents everything that’s wrong with 21st century Weezer – it’s cheesy, overproduced and leaning waaay to far into pop teritory.

I mean, it’s far from being the worst album ever, but it’s just so bland and generic that it’s instantly forgettable. Hard to pick literally anything that stands out in a positive way. Maybe Mexican Fender sounds like a decent Weezer song, but it just sounds like a B-side from last album.

On the other side we have abominations like Feels Like Summer, where the band goes full-on Imagine Dragons with electropop influences and apparently “epic” chorus that just fells flat. It only gets more corny with tracks like Beach Boys and Weekend Woman.

I don’t really know what went wrong here – Rivers and company have all the capability to write a great, catchy and happy summer album, as proved by their previous record. Sadly, Pacific Daydream is bland, boring and just utterly dissapointing.

4/10

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Beck – Colors

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Three years after the mellow and melancholic Morning Phase, Beck once again proves that he’s able to reinveint himself in any genre he seems fitting – with great results. Colors is a colorful (duh), glossy and sparkling album, full of upbeat, happy songs. It’s not about pushing the boundaries or winning a Grammy this time – this record is pure fun, designed to make people dance. And it does its job brilliantly.

The title track sets everything in motion – very rhythmic and energetic, it captivates the listener right from the start. The dreamy Seventh Heaven features some great vocal harmonies and is just pure bliss. I’m So Free features a surprising, heavily distorted guitar, although the chorus seems a little bit uninspired.

The next three songs are the highlights of this album and no wonder why they were put as a centerpiece: the midtempo Dear Life has quite a bittersweet feel, despite the funky piano. No Distraction sounds a bit like a modern attempt at The Police aesthetic (especially in the verses). Once again, catchy hooks galore, and your feet start dancing on their own. But the true wonder here is Dreams – quite possibly the perfect pop song – that multi-layered chorus will haunt you for a long time, and the tempo changes a couple times, making it unpredictable and guaranteeing it sounds fresh and exciting even after many listens.

Not everything here is so perfect though: Wow is a messy attempt at trap (I guess?). Not sure why it’s here, definitely a skippable track. I’m not so sold on the closer, Fix Me, either -it’s a bland ballad, not really memorable.

Overall though, it’s probably the party album of the year. Great songwriting combined with visionary production allowed him to make a convincing stylistic change, despite pop music being the dangerous teritory that has led many to fall into the sellout category. Beck does it effortlessly – it’s genuinely a great pop album

8/10

Liam Gallagher – As You Were

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See, I thought this album would be mediocre at best. With Beady Eye dissolving after two underwhelming records and Liam throwing insults on Twitter and everywhere else I was afraid he was slowly turning into a parody of himself, a perfect model of a fallen rockstar. But our kid proved me wrong. As You Were is the best thing he’s done since Oasis swansong, Dig Out Your Soul almost a decade ago.

The first thing I have to point out – Liam’s voice. We all heard the decrease in his trademark snarl, and the damage seemed final. But something very good must have happened, because on this record it sounds like that voice back in the 90’s – glorious in every aspect. And it’s not just the studio magic – live recordings confirm that he’s in a great vocal form.

Musically, it’s not surprising nor very experimental – most of the time it’s a mix of Beatles and Stones in different proportions, and it works out very well. Basically, songs on this album can be sorted into three categories: melodic ballads (Paper Crown, Chinatown and the lennonesque For What It’s Worth), galloping rockers led by fast-paced acoustic guitar (Greedy Soul, thunderous You Better Run and I Get By) and the tracks with a slight psychedelic vibe to it (Bold, Universal Gleam). What’s important is that all three kinds sound convincing and they’re mixed in good proportions – the album is really well construced when it comes to pace.

Okay, it may be borrowing too much from the bands Liam’s been inspired by for years (Beatles, Stones, a bit of T.Rex here and there). But if you’re an Oasis fan you know how well these insprations can work out when done by the Gallaghers. If you consider this kind of music redundant and reject anything that got less than 7 on Pitchfork – you’re not gonna like it, move along. However I must warn you, you’re missing on a great piece of rock ‘n roll.

It’s triumphant, confident, bursting with great tracks that (finally!) prove Liam’s songwriting skills. I was afraid it will be shit, but it turned out to be BIBLICAL. Love at first listen.

9/10

Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life

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My Love is Cool was probably one of the best debuts of the decade. What was so great about it was the fact that it seamlessly mixed different genres and moods, while maintaining a unique feel that the band truly have a sound of their own – and Ellie Rowsell’s voice sounded amazing regardless if it was a punk banger or a moody ballad.

On their sophomore album, the band goes even further in eclectic songwriting. It was perfectly obvious even before the release – the singles (which are also the four opening tracks) varied from shoegaze (Heavenward, where the Slowdive inspriation is pretty clear), ferocious punk (Yuk Foo) to dream pop (Don’t Delete The Kisses) with a clear and nice Beautifully Unconvential thrown somewhere in between.

So we reach brand new material by track no.5, and it keeps a steady level from there too. Planet Hunter starts off slow and gentle, and it gets noisier and more unsettling with time, all the way to the finish. Formidable Cool mixes groove and creepy atmosphere with elegance and with power too. Generally speaking, the band has gone for a more ethereal and noisy vibe this time (even though the debut had these too). Some excellent sound passages and Wall of Sound guitars dominate the whole thing. The album ends with a title track, a monumental juggernaut of a track. Multi-layered and complex, it’s a worthy successor to Giant Peach from the debut.

It seems the band knows perfectly well what they want to do, and it can only get better with next recors. For now, let’s enjoy¬†Visions of a Life – a great proof that the second album doesn’t have to be the difficult one.

8/10