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Album review: Weezer’s latest effort a breath of fresh air among recent duds

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It’s been a great season for rock and alternative music. Everyone from classic rockers, such as U2 and Robert Plant, to newer bands and artists such as Spoon, Interpol and Ryan Adams have come out with strong new albums in August and September. And we’ve yet to hear any of the highly-anticipated new Foo Fighters album, “Sonic Highways,” which is scheduled to come out next month.

But I never would have expected that classic alt-rockers Weezer would put out an album that would hold its own in such a stacked deck or that it would indeed be one of the strongest of the year.

Weezer’s newest album is tight, punchy, melodic and joyful. It’s a grand return to the band’s brand of hard-rocking, fun ‘90s power pop that we all know and love. It’s also the most consistent album they’ve put out in years. There is no filler here, and even the weaker songs on “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” sound good.

Listening to the album, from the opening track on, it’s clear that this was a Weezer album entirely worthy of release. That’s a feeling that many of the band’s fans who came to love the group through its first two seminal alternative rock albums — “Weezer” and “Pinkerton” — haven’t felt in years. Much of the band’s work since those first two records has been uneven, and some would even argue, so poor to the point of unintentional self-parody. Collaborations with Lil Wayne and a number of other pop songwriters made 2009’s “Raditude” the low point of the band’s career — and even their previous studio album, “Hurley,” which was better, attracted more headlines for its bizarre cover art of “Lost” star Jorge Garcia than its actual music.

But opener “Ain’t Got Nobody” rocks with a vengeance. Its grinding riff sounds terrific. And by the time the song closes out with rhapsodic harmonies, it’s evident that Weezer sounds fresh and essential.

Lead-off single “Back to the Shack” continues the trend. Eccentric frontman Rivers Cuomo cuts right to the point with his self-mocking, apologetic lyrics referencing the band’s troubles: “Sorry guys I didn’t realize that I needed you so much / I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks.”

“Eulogy For a Rock Band” also seems to have an element of self-reference in it, as is evidenced by the title.

“The British Are Coming” is a highlight and shows off some of the lyrical and musical diversity on the album. Cuomo writes the song from the perspective of Paul Revere and the song climaxes with a series of wonderful guitar solos.

“Da Vinci” features ingenious, classic lyrics from Cuomo and has more catchy melodies. “Even Da Vinci couldn’t paint you / And Stephen Hawking can’t explain you / Rosetta Stone could not translate you / I’m at a loss for words.”

“Cleopatra” and “Foolish Father” are more highlights, with more eccentric and introspective lyrics and wonderful harmonies.

There’s a lot more that I could say about this album. “The Futurescope Trilogy” closing it out sounds great. Classic producer and The Cars vocalist Ric Ocasek really helped to tighten the reins on Weezer’s tendency toward excess and filler.

But above all, it’s awesome to have the band sound this good again. The world deserves more of these blissful, rocking melodies, and we got them here. We know that Weezer hasn’t always lived up to the standards that the group set for themselves on the first two albums, but they (mostly) do on “Everything Will Be Alright In The End.”

It’s no problem though. We’re glad to have Weezer back.

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