How long do you stick with a band years after you’ve released a couple masterpieces? That’s a question Weezer superfans ask themselves with each of the group’s frequent releases. The band dropped two stone-cold classics, 1994’s Weezer (Blue Album) and 1996’s Pinkerton, but they haven’t reached similar highs since. Sure, there have been stellar hits (“Beverly Hills,” “Hash Pipe”) and solid albums like 2008’s Weezer (Red Album), but nothing on the scale of the group’s mid-’90s heyday. So while the band’s tenth LP, Weezer (White Album), is leagues better than outings like 2009’s Raditude, its uneven collection of saccharine pop-punk still feels a little lacking.
Weezer’s worst moments occur when frontman Rivers Cuomo gets too bubblegum — see the 2009 single “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” — and that remains the case here. The gauzy “Wind in Our Sail” goes down like undiluted juice concentrate: Cuomo, who’s a master of offsetting sunny power chords with lyrics about romantic failures, warbles here about doing “so many great things together, together” over a plinking piano that even Owl City might call corny. “Jacked Up” sounds like a wayward alt-rock cover of Kanye West’s “Homecoming”, with Cuomo’s grating falsetto only making matters worse.
But, as with many of Weezer’s more recent albums, there are enough flashes of zany excellence to keep things interesting. The swaggering “Thank God For Girls” combines the record’s best riff with Cuomo’s trademark romantic longing (“I’m so glad I got a girl to think of / Even though she isn’t mine”) and hilarious self-deprecation (“Looking at the underwear page of the Sears catalog like when I was 14”). “King of the World” is Weezer’s best outsider singalong since “Beverly Hills” and “L.A. Girlz” is the most Blue Album-worthy piece of pop-punk the band has recorded in years. Together with the tear-jerking closer “Endless Bummer,” these highlights make White Album another Weezer record with a few contenders for a killer playlist—and it also offers a glimmer of hope that yet another masterpiece is within their reach.