Weezer’s latest release is a bittersweet affair. Death to False Metal is the magnum opus of post-2005 Weezer – consistent, catchy, and completely void of our favorite recently un-incarcerated rap mogul. Sounds good, right? The catch is that the band’s latest is a collection of unreleased material; ergo, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the band will leave their five-year slump. Still, the songs themselves are excellent, and Death to False Metal is the first album of “new” material in a long while that Weezer fans might actually be happy with.
For years, devoted Weezer fans have settled time after time for less-than-great music. Perhaps the most exciting prospect of Death to False Metal is that fans, even for just for a moment; don’t have to settle for less – “Turning Up the Radio” is the best song the band has released in years, plain and simple. Calling to mind old deep cuts like “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” and the fabled Songs from the Black Hole demos, “Turning Up the Radio” utilizes catchy synth melodies without sounding like something Jermaine Dupri produced. The song isn’t lyrically outstanding, but that’s hardly Weezer’s blunder – the lyrics were chosen by Justin Vail, a Pennsylvania singer-songwriter who submitted his lyrics for frontman Rivers Cuomo’s “Let’s Write a Sawng” YouTube collaboration. To his credit, the lyrics are so in the vein of Weezer’s recent material, it’s hard to tell that they were written by an outside source. The bridge is full of upbeat, pop-punk edge, and leads right into the solo – a huge harmonizing synth-guitar solo to be exact – which is the song’s “cherry on top.” Death to False Metal sees the long-overdue reworking of “I Don’t Want Your Loving” – a cathartic jab at “too cool for you” girls that has circulated among fans as an acoustic demo since 2002. The raw, crunchy guitars in the bridge and solo sound encouragingly like something that might find a home on the band’s sophomore effort, Pinkerton, but the deliriously stale ooh’s and ahh’s of the chorus create dichotomy instead of contrast.
“Blowin’ My Stack”, written prior to 2005’s Make Believe, is an alt-rock classic about being pissed off. A musical middle-finger with an extremely infectious chorus, “Blowin’ My Stack” makes great music for blasting in your car. Meanwhile, the catchy, pop sensibilities of songs like “I’m a Robot” and “Odd Couple” serve as perfect examples of both Cuomo’s ear for melody and how deeply a good Weezer song can get embedded into your brain. Although neither is among the strongest songs on the album, “Trampoline” and “Everyone” will have some significance to the diehard fan – both were written and originally recorded in 1998 during the band’s hiatus, where there is a virtual absence of music recorded by the band (reasonably – bassist Matt Sharp had only just left the band). “Trampoline” is grungy and more akin to the band’s older material, while the edgy, heavy metal riffs of “Everyone” would make their way into Weezer’s 2002 effort, Maladroit.
Those with a sweet tooth for catchy pop-rock will find something to love in Weezer’s latest release, but Death to False Metal is a message directed at fans. The message reads “We aren’t dead yet.” As longtime fans become increasingly cynical of the band’s ability to write good music, Weezer steps up to prove them wrong. If Hurley hinted at future greatness, Death to False Metal almost promises it. Weezer are a lot of things, but they are not false metal.