Album Review: Weezer- “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”

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It’s been 20 years since Rivers Cuomo first sang about his sweater coming undone and his resemblance to Buddy Holly, and in that time he and his bandmates have gone through quite a fascinating and tumultuous ride. From Cuomo’s period of depression following the band’s critically panned but cult favorite sophomore release Pinkerton, to two other self-titled albums commonly referred to by their color that never quite lived up to the legendary “Blue Album,” to the suspected drug overdose-induced death of former bassist Mikey Welsh in 2011, Weezer have traveled a pretty unpredictable path full of various obstacles and detours. And it seems as though 20 years after releasing one of the most iconic albums of the 90’s, they’ve almost come full circle, proving that all their missteps and moments of bleakness have made them an even stronger band, capable of not only returning to their roots and reconnecting with the fans they may have alienated along the way, but also finding a refreshed sense of vulnerability and wit that makes this collection of 13 new songs more impactful and enjoyable than just about anything they’ve released since their mid-90’s heyday.

While it would be futile and rather unfair to try to compare the new album to Pinkerton or The Blue or Green Albums, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is full of the big rock anthems and fun, catchy power pop that made the band’s first three releases such fan favorites. The opening track, “Aint Got Nobody,” comes in with the same bold, poppy melodies, killer riffs and playful guitar solos that fans fell in love with years ago on tracks like “Say It Ain’t So,” “Why Bother,” and even “Hash Pipe.” The following track, “Back To The Shack,” is an insanely catchy, power pop anthem with a simple, repetitive chorus that reveals Cuomo’s witty insights into his tortured relationship with his fans and offers them a “sorry not sorry” sort of apology for the risks he and his band have taken throughout the last decade.

Weezer continue to explore their troubled relationship with fans in tracks such as “Eulogy For A Rock Band,” which takes the perspective of a disenfranchised fan base who are mourning the long lost glory days of their heroes (Goodbye heroes, you had a good run/Fifteen years of ruling the planet/But now your light’s fading), and the geeky humor of “The British Are Coming,” in which Cuomo plays the role of Paul Revere to his “punk ass redcoat” fans “telling him what to do and where to go.” This group of songs that examines stardom and fandom truly reaches its pinnacle with “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” which finds Cuomo venting to his fickle audience, “I tried to give my best to you/But you plugged up your ears/And now I just can’t take no more/I’ve had it up to here,” and channeling his inner Freddy Mercury with a gloriously dramatic bridge, singing, “Oh, if you think I need approval/From the faceless throng/That’s where you’re wrong.”

Cuomo’s relationship with listeners is not the only one he attempts to lyrically amend; he devotes another group of songs on to his Pentecostal minister father, who recently came back into his life after years of estrangement. With “Foolish Father,” Cuomo seems to absolve the sins of his father and free himself from resentment, as he sings, “Forgive your foolish father/He did the best that he could do,” and is backed by a triumphant chorus who close the song with a reassuring refrain that bears the album’s title, “Everything will be alright in the end.” Yet another group of songs explores his relationship with women, the strongest of these being “Go Away,” an especially poppy and gently rocking duet with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast and “Cleopatra,” an all out rock anthem in which he declares his freedom from a codependent relationship, while still wishing his lover the best.

Everything Will Be Alright In The End certainly does its best to make amends on many levels and to reunite an iconic, influential and still very relevant band with fans they may have abandoned along their somewhat strange, divisive journey through the 2000’s. It seems Cuomo & co. have finally put the many experimentations and disappointments of their career behind them in order to return to what they do best: delivering massive, catchy rock anthems laced with just the right amount of ironic humor and introspection that will take listeners right “Back To The Shack” with them.

Album Review: From Indian Lakes- “Absent Sounds”

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It must have seemed like quite a daunting task to create a worthy follow up to their stunning 2012 album Able Bodies, but From Indian Lakes have managed to channel that album’s majestic beauty and nuanced artistry into an equally enthralling new body of work, while also pushing their creative boundaries to move their songwriting into exciting new realms of melodic and lyrical possibilities.

Absent Sounds finds the band expanding even further upon the masterful songwriting and musicianship that made Able Bodies such an impactful, artfully constructed album. The ten tracks on this new LP seamlessly weave together a wide range of dynamics, melodies and moods, creating a compelling listening experience in which new details and treasures are unearthed each time. The title seems somewhat misleading, as nothing at all appears to be “absent” from this collection of songs. Each sound, each lyric, each tiny, seemingly inconsequential detail is impeccably placed and well timed so that nothing feels lacking or lost.

The album moves along with a natural ebb and flow that gives it an almost prefect sense of balance, timing, and structure. Quieter songs transition quite gracefully into ones marked by more layered melodies and heavier sounds so that nothing at all feels choppy or out of sync. The gently hypnotic pulsations and sweetly pining vocals of the opening track, “Come In This Light,” give way to the darker marching beats and more complex structures of “Label This Love” and “Breathe, Desperately” in a way that feels fluid and logical. Amid the emotional, lyrical, and melodic intensities that make the album flourish, the band comes up for air in the form of some more simple melodies and quiet moments with songs like the poignant, acoustic based “Runner,” and the lush, sparkling pop sensibilities of “Am I Alive” and “Awful Things.” It’s moments like these that keep the album afloat and prevent it from drowning too deeply in its own darkness and dramatic intensity.

While it’s especially challenging to nominate the best tracks from such a strong, cohesive body of work, two standout singles, “Ghost” and “Sleeping Limbs” are arguably the pinnacles of the album. The former is a powerfully emotive confessional strengthened by the interplay between soaring, dramatic choruses and more gentle, subdued verses, artfully strung together with touches of jingle bells and keyboards. In some ways it recalls early-mid ‘00s Death Cab For Cutie. The latter begins as a chill, reflective, gently flowing track that soon becomes beautifully draped in layers of shimmering guitars tempered with just the right amount of dissonance and lyrical darkness. Both tracks accent elegantly decorated, gently driving melodies with majestically swelling crescendos that showcase lead singer Joey Vannucchi’s unparalleled vocal prowess.

From Indian Lakes are a shining example of a band who continue to refine their craft and develop their style in the most delightful of ways. I could list so many other reasons as to why Absent Sounds is one of the best albums of 2014, but you should probably just sit down, listen to it from start to finish, and let its treasure trove of sounds and surprises enfold you.