Expectations are both a blessed and a cursed thing. There is nothing quite like the anticipation of an upcoming album from a favourite band, but when the first glimpses of this new release sound like nothing the band has done in the past it’s easy to feel betrayed. American surf rock staple, Weezer, caught many fans off guard with “Feels Like Summer” at the beginning of the year. It was a complete turnaround from the excellent pop/rock their previous record, White, offered last year. The song scared even me away at first with its pounding synths and vocals so high and loud it would make even Skrillex proud. So is Pacific Daydream the flop we all expected? No, not at all.
As “Mexican Fender” opens, listeners are met with Weezer’s signature guitar practically screaming to any doubter that they haven’t gone anywhere. The lyrics are goofy and youthful and the music is a tasteful marriage of Weezer’s classic surf rock and this latest pop direction. “Beach Boys,” another song initially met with lukewarm reception, also turns out to be a rather fun tune in the context of the album. “Feels Like Summer” is where the album’s own identity comes into play and “Happy Hour” follows suit with a chill chorus that admittedly falls into to the weaker slot compared to Daydream’s later jams.
Once the rather sloppy (although far from bad) first half comes and goes, “Weekend Women” introduces the incredibly consistent second half. It’s the kind of song summer lovin’ folks like myself yearn for and in a year full of beautifully sombre releases (The War on Drugs, The National, Manchester Orchestra, and most recently Julien Baker’s latest) a track like this is a much-needed change of pace. Lyrically Weezer channel the adolescent frustration of falling in love one day and being apart until the next free weekend so a strong relationship never gets the chance to bloom, “Fell in love on a Sunday / By Monday morning I drifted away / All I want is to see her / All I want is to reach my weekend woman.” “Sweet Mary” is another wonderful cut from a more positive romantic angle, “When I am all on my own / One foot is in the grave / My Sweet Mary comes / To help me to find my way / So I give her my thanks / I don’t know what I would do / Without my Sweet Mary love / To help me to make it through.”
Fans worried about Weezer’s latest direction need not sweat anymore. Pacific Daydream isn’t the frustrated narrative-driven White nor is it the giant proclamation of a return to glory days Everything Will Be Alright In The End was. It’s a simple, fun summer release, and it’s content to be nothing more than that. As summer rolls around here in Australia, the sunny vibe of Pacific Daydream is something I’m personally grateful for, and I’m excited to make few memories with it.