I’ll spare you the old trick and simply say the new Weezer song sounds like Weezer. “The End Of The Game” will arrive on the forthcoming album Van Weezer on May 2020(!) and offers an interesting proposition. Decked out with a rendition of Van Halen’s first, and blessedly disregarded logo styling, the presentation wants you to know that Rivers Cuomo are mining the sweet side of what would eventually be deemed “hair metal” on this one.
Upon first listen, the very advanced first single “The End Of The Game” sounds enough like it is punching the right buttons. With bombastic guitars opening the track, you expect to be transported to a world that’s easy, breezy, sleazy, and a little cheesy, and the first and second listens don’t disappoint.
It’s on turn number three where opinions change. The guitars that seemed so vital and ballsy at first blush recede quickly into memory. There is no guitar solo at the instrumental bridge because, you guessed it, there is no instrumental bridge. If you are attempting to evoke big hair ’80s power rock, lacking this feature is strike one.
Further, the drums are downright anemic. Another strike. As good as Eddie Van Halen was, he was also in competition with Alex Van Halen on drums, one of rock’s most underrated performers. Broaden this out and you’ll also ask where Motley Crue would be with Mick Mars but not Tommy Lee, or vice versa. This era of rock was fueled with coke (the illegal one), and its practitioners played it accordingly. The members of Weezer, on the other hand, pound through admirably but cautiously, and that’s a problem.
Now, before you shoot me that glare and tell me that Weezer is not trying to imitate ’80s rock so much as infuse their power pop with ’80s touches, I get that. That’s exactly what they’ve done here, and “The End Of The Game” is an accurate example of what they’ve done for years. Fortunately for us, it’s a fun – albeit temporary – tumble down, like this year’s “Teal Album,” and not a painful drag through lunkery, like this year’s “Black Album.”
But I have to believe that if you choose to invoke certain names, styles, and tropes, you are also responsible for not backing down before you’ve even started. That’s actually what made the “Teal Album” work, novelty though it was. The band’s commitment to the bit was earnest, even during some selections on the record where tongue was in cheek, up one nostril, and out the ear. “The End Of The Game” starts with the illusory mullet-banging but concludes with Weezer kind of weenie-ing out, falling back on their usual crutches.
For a few spins of this song, one might start looking forward to a year ahead just to get to the horns-waving, the hearty-partying, and the bleach-blonde babery that the Van Weezer premise appears to offer. But the supposed simple charms of “The End Of The Game” just don’t hang in there.