The Singles Party: Weezer, ‘Back to the Shack’

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Weezer is one of those bands that evoke both love and hate — from the same person. Many old school Weezer-ites remain enamored with the band’s work from the 90s — the alt-tastic, self-deprecating and nerdy power pop from The Blue Album and Pinkerton. Others have a strong attachment to later day Weezer where the band really turned the pop wattage up with songs like “Magic in Me” and “Beverly Hills.” Now, in 2014, the band is making a return to their roots with the song “Back to the Shack.” The Singles Party crew, which includes some new faces, examines.

Nick Porcaro: For over 20 years, the California power pop quartet Weezer continues to face a lose-lose situation regarding the reception of their work. Although 2005’s Make Believe played host to the band’s biggest single, “Beverly Hills”, nothing’s received the same rapturous acclaim of their certified ’90s classics The Blue Album and Pinkerton. Their latest effort, “Back to the Shack”, is another solid song in a discography full of great singles but I don’t think Everything Will Be Alright in the End will break the streak.

The song’s heavily self-referential, self-deprecating lyrics are certainly worth a laugh or two:

“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
I ended up with nobody and I started feeling dumb
Maybe I should play the lead guitar and Pat should play the drums”

Yet the chorus is just okay, and it suffers from the same trend that marks many of the band’s songs: its silly melody is simple almost to the point of stupidity. Nevertheless, the solo section is totally righteous and Ric Ocasek’s production is fat and crunchy, just like it should be. Weezer’s latest single is a fun listen but it won’t be remembered as one of their best. Verdict: add to playlist

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Justin Matchick: Does admitting you’ve made mistakes in the past automatically mean you won’t make those same mistakes in the future? Weezer has been on a critical nosedive for so long now that the term “not as good as Pinkerton” is nearly old enough to drive. Rivers Cuomo and the rest of the band seem to have finally had enough of this critical backlash and “Back to the Shack” is their attempt to recapture what made them one of the most highly praised alternative acts of the mid-90s, featuring lyrics referencing their shortcomings over the past decade and a half.

This attempt falls flat on its face right out the starting gate when we’re greeted with a goofy faux-metal guitar riff and lazy drum beat that sound more at home on the much maligned Make Believe than a supposed attempt at a Blue Album callback. The band seems to still be stuck in the 15 year-long rut of trying to write the catchiest choruses possible while neglecting the rest of the songwriting process, and prove once again that Cuomo and the band just do not seem to know how to write a song without making it one big joke anymore. This is not the final nail in the coffin for Weezer. This is just confirmation that the final nail was struck years ago, and now we are just watching them throw the dirt on top. Verdict: One and Done

Lucas P. Jones: I have never really been a devoted fan of Weezer. In fact, I would describe it as a bit of an “on again, off again” relationship. After giving this track a listen, Weezer and I might need to be on an extended break. The song is classic Weezer, but not in a good way. By that I mean that it is almost the exact same Weezer that we’ve heard since 1994, and while the lyrics opine for a return to “the start when the lightning struck,” it seems they’ve opted instead to string together some run of the mill chords and fairly standard drum beat to create this song.

Don’t get me wrong, its extremely catchy, and the guitar solo is actually pretty cool. But after you listen to this song a few times, its mediocrity starts to shine through, and the entire effort just comes off as…lazy. Maybe the entire album isn’t like this, maybe this is just your stereotypical single designed to drum up hype, and maybe the other tracks on the album will be. at the very least, interesting. That’s a lot of “maybe’s” to commit to any sort of excitement for the album. Verdict: Abstain

Photo Credit: Emily Shur
Photo Credit: Emily Shur

Kelly O’Dowd: The other day I was listening to Soundcheck on WNYC, and they were talking about the summer of ’94. You know, that fantastic summer where EVERYTHING came out? Including Weezer’s Blue Album, also know as one of the best records ever?

Yeah. While this song does sound more like their first couple albums than their later ones, this doesn’t have the same vibe. The mid-90s were a special time. With all that grunge rock and flannel shirts. Nowadays, that sound sounds dated. Weezer is trying to go back to a time that cannot exist anymore sonically. We have moved past that.

Lyrically, this is boring. “Take me back/back to the shack” is repeated more times than I care to count. It’s catchy, but like a horrible earworm. Give me “Call Me Maybe” or “Friday” over this chorus.

I still say that they should have just stuck with those first two albums and not have made a “comeback.” Verdict: One and Done.

Lisa Pikaard: There’s a lyric in this song about going back to ’94. Yeah, you guys were a huge success then. Let it go. This song is the exact same thing we’ve heard before and I’m over it. This song is just like those that Weezer successful in the past but that’s a huge problem because the band has changed nothing. It hasn’t grown and that leads this track to being utterly boring. As a first single in over three years a song should be exciting, thrilling even but there is nothing new or exciting here; it just falls flat. Although the song is catchy, it’s utterly stale. I could say more about the track but then I would be as repetitive as this damn song is. Sorry Weezer you should’ve stayed back in ’94. Verdict: One and Done.

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Erica Batchelor: I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a catchy pop song, especially one reminiscent of Weezer in the 90’s. To be honest, I was unaware they were even coming out with a new album simply because I haven’t kept up with the band over the years. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they hit the mark with this single but it’s memorable enough to have you singing along after the first listen. “Back to the Shack” definitely drew me in with the original sound I know and love from Weezer from back in the good ol’ days. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Al Mannarino: “Back to the strat with the lightning strap.” Weezer is finally back! After years of mediocre singles and disappointing albums, “Back to the Shack” seems like a return to form for the geeky alternative rock band that produced two of the best albums in the genre. It’s not 1994 anymore, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want that Weezer back. In their nostalgia filled new single, lead singer Rivers Cuomo starts the track apologizing to the fans “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.” The song isn’t just about where the band has been, or the mistakes they’ve made, it’s about returning to their roots. The sound is reminiscent of Pinkerton and The Green Album (my personal favorite next to The Blue Album) Here’s hoping that the rest of Everything Will Be Alright In The End will be more of a trip down memory lane, while also having the band evolve for the better. Verdict: Rock out like it’s 94′ (Add to Playlist)

Bill Bodkin: “Back to the Shack” may not be Weezer’s greatest song of all-time, but man is it nice to hear them playing rock music again. Honestly, the poppy Weezer stuff was never terrible, it was just disconcerting to hear the band go down such a saccharine-filled road of mediocrity. “Back to the Shack” really takes that self-deprecating, nerdy and referential style of lyric play the band is known and it combines with some pretty tasty riffs. Is it a bit plodding at times. Yes. But, does it still have that fun, vintage Weezer feel to it. If the new record is like this, I’m excited. Verdict: Add to the playlist.

Final Verdict: The group stands behind you downloading Weezer’s latest, however, heed the warnings from those who say otherwise. Weezer has become a very polarizing band, so buyer beware.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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