Carter’s Record Reviews: Weezer’s “Ok Human” marks turning point in band’s sound, but is not best album of 2021 material

Weezer+plays+a+live+show.+%27Ok+Human%27+is+their+14th+studio+album%2C+with+their+15th+expected+to+drop+in+May.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Weezer plays a live show. ‘Ok Human’ is their 14th studio album, with their 15th expected to drop in May.

“Ok Human” is Weezer’s 14th album, and was released on Jan. 29. The album is about 30 minutes in runtime, and features a more orchestral sound as compared to Weezer’s mostly alternative rock-driven sound.

The clear departure from the angst of their previous rock-driven records leaves the album prone to experimentation and new instrumentation. “For the album, the title of which conspicuously winks at Radiohead’s OK Computer, Cuomo & Co. traded loud guitars for flowery string arrangements,” Rolling Stone said in their analysis of the album.

The recently popular “All My Favorite Songs” is a major instance of the baroque and chamber pop showcased on this record, with lead singer Rivers Cuomo reflecting on the melancholic music he finds himself relating to and feelings of isolation, especially commonplace during life in the pandemic.

“Aloo Gobi,” on the other hand, sees Cuomo express uplifting messages to help those who feel isolated, varying from the introspection on the preceding track. However, “All My Favorite Songs” is a more well-rounded track, for the hooks are more pronounced and the lyrics seem to have a more personal touch from Cuomo.

The remainder of the first half of the album continues on with “Grapes of Wrath,” “Numbers.” and “Playing My Piano.” Of these tracks, “Grapes of Wrath” is my favorite, with an impeccable sense of sustained rhythm, featuring themes of escapism that the singer seeks in his free time. “Numbers” and “Playing My Piano’ aren’t necessarily bad standalone songs, however “Grapes of Wrath” just intrigued me more.

“Screens” is a reminder of the constantly virtual world that surrounds us, with a repeating string instrument hook that is a great start to the second half of the album. Another favorite of mine toward the end of the album is “Dead Roses,” which is a melancholic track to say the least, and a highlight of the instrumentation on the album. “La Brea Tar Pits” is a decent track that has some solid instrumentals as well, but feels mediocre due to how brief it is.

Some of my least favorite parts of the album are “Bird With a Broken Wing,” which just seems to drag on into eternity, “Here Comes the Rain,” which is merely in an uninteresting track and doesn’t seem to fit as well into the album as the other tracks do. Finally, “Mirror Image” is a forgettable and short track that does not seem to contribute as much as other tracks to the album as a whole.

Taken together, “Ok Human” is a relatively fun and concise album that provides some new songwriting methods for Weezer, with its baroque pop tendencies. The instrumentals can become slightly formulaic and overused, however there are still some great hooks on this record. Furthermore, the lyrics that touch on life during the pandemic are an interesting aspect of the album. In the end, I would give this album a six out of 10, as it is worth a listen but is not totally groundbreaking.