At the end of January, Weezer released their fourteenth studio album entitled OK Human. While this album was originally planned as far back as 2017, the idea was originally shelved when the band was invited to go on tour with Green Day and Fall Out Boy in 2020. As a result, they began working on the album Van Weezer which would contain songs that are better suited for sold out audiences. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the tour from happening, Weezer turned their sights back to OK Human and we should all be thankful they did. While clearly taking title inspiration from Radiohead’s 1997 album, OK Computer, Weezer’s OK Human takes musical inspiration from other sources creating a huge sonic change from what Weezer has been doing the past few years. Shelving their electric guitars, frontman Rivers Cuomo and the rest of the band plunged forth with a thirty-eight piece orchestra creating a baroque pop album that is a breath of fresh air.
The downsides of the album? Well, if you are a classic Weezer fan hoping for them to return to the “glory days” of the Blue album or Pinkerton sound, then this is most likely not the album for you. This sounds completely different. Some might also find issue with the lyrics which, while they are at times vulnerable and ‘human,’ can also be quite absurd. But in the history of the band, this is nothing new. Rivers Cuomo has always found solace in lyrics that other songwriters would throw out, or never even consider putting into the song. However, it works for this album. It fits the world that they are attempting to build.
This brings me to the good parts of the album: Weezer knew exactly what they wanted to do with OK Human, and they achieved it. They set out with clear inspirations, but did not copy completely, making something completely new. When classic Weezer rhythms are matched with an orchestra from Abbey Road studios, then it creates a product that has elements of rock, pop, hip hop, and classical music all lumped into one. In a music industry that is filled with drum loops, autotune, electric guitars, synthesizers, etc. (all of which Weezer has used in the past), they put out an album that was recorded analogue with natural instruments. Where others attempt this feat and end up just sounding like a band from history, Weezer took the idea but kept it current. OK Human brings analogue into the 21st century and makes it sound great.
Standouts of the album: the lead single, “All My Favorite Songs,” “Grapes of Wrath,” and “Screens.” All groove well with expertly produced drums and a pop orchestra. They are all relatable and bring you on enough of an escapist journey that you can relax as you listen. The worst of the album is probably “Playing My Piano” mainly because the lyrics are a little bit of a stretch, however the song is still good and it fits the rest of the album.
In the end, this album gets a 4.5/5. Weezer set out with a specific goal in mind and they absolutely achieved it. They made baroque pop approachable and new. They created an album unlike anything else that is being put out by well known bands, especially bands that started in the grunge scene. With lyrics that remind the listener of the Red album or Raditude, but with chord changes and music that is unlike anything they have done before, Weezer has released an album that is seeking to return to the old days, but make it better. And that is what they have done. Stream Weezer’s OK Human on all platforms now.
(Cover Photo: ourculture)