Due to the indefinite nature of the pandemic, the subgenre of the “pandemic album” has become an increasingly large fixture. Although some, such as Taylor Swift’s folklore and Charli XCX’s how i’m feeling now, were massive critical and financial successes, Weezer’s latest album, OK Human, is not poised to join those ranks. While the album is clearly inspired by the classic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, OK Human comes off as an odd imitation of Coldplay with quirky yet unremarkable lyrics and string orchestras in place of more brooding melodrama.
Although the album deserves a certain amount of credit for sticking to a moody, dramatic aesthetic and producing a cohesive vision, this vision is ambivalent and mediocre. In what can be viewed as an unintentional homage to the band’s pop-punk roots, most of the songs sound almost exactly the same, and virtually none of them are memorable or good enough to propel the album to a higher quality. While “Screens” and “Here Comes the Rain” stand out amongst the sea of homogeneity and are more indicative of Weezer’s typical alternative rock sound, most of the songs on the album feel like a misplaced and half-hearted attempt to revisit a once-experimental, now dated style of production.
The high concentration of orchestral backing throughout the album is at its best in the final song, “La Brea Tar Pits,” where it takes on a more subdued version of the role that a guitar riff might have filled in earlier Weezer work. However, any power built up in the standout songs is fundamentally washed away by the bland repetitiveness of OK Human as a whole. While it may feel briefly representative of the moody blues of the pandemic, there is no quality or longevity beyond this pedestrian work.