Weezer’s last few albums have often felt like the Monty Python-esque skits I used to perform at camp: pithy, satirical and highly unoriginal. Rather than using innocent (and admittedly unfunny) word play as a mode of comedy, Weezer used their albums to pick on different music genres, emulating and amplifying their flaws in predictable caricatures.

In Weezer’s new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End, lead singer and front man Rivers Cuomo hopes to fight this devolving image. Instead, it feels more like a desperate attempt to channel the success of their first few albums, and it ends up being a cynical and self-deprecating plea for relevance two decades after their popular first full-length LP.

Rather than trying to time travel to the ’90s, the band would have benefitted from developing their rock or, even better, their grunge sound in a more modern context. Musically, repetitive guitar hooks mark the album, and boring and steady rhythms plague it with unabashed averageness. There is nothing to break up the melodic monotony except for some syncopated percussion beats and voice samples at the beginning of a few tracks.

The album as a whole is disjointed and painstakingly familiar. If Weezer is trying to communicate a singular theme, it is lost among their deeply remorseful and cheesy lyrics like the chorus of “Da Vinci” which begins, “Even Da Vinci couldn’t paint you/ Stephen Hawking couldn’t explain you/ Rosetta Stone could not translate you/ I’m at a loss for words…” Seriously? What happened to the quirky and unapologetically honest lyrics of the “Say It Ain’t So” variety?

The lyrical mood throughout most of the album, however, is incredibly dark and regretful, especially for a band that reached critical fame with songs like “Buddy Holly,”  “My Name is Jonas” and “Undone – Sweater Song,” the last of which playfully uses an unraveling sweater as an extended metaphor.

Pinkerton, their second LP, was also morbid and dark but in a distinctly grungy and honest way. The album told a comprehensive story with a rough and edgy sound that matched the tone of the lyrics. In contrast, Everything Will Be Alright in the End lacks any clear focus. There’s some love, some anger, some regret. They are all over the map.

“Eulogy for Rock Band” may be an ode to the band’s now-distant and distinct sound, and it is one of the strongest tracks in terms of musical variety. But in their attempt to connect with the Weezer of the past, they end up sounding campy and sardonic, betraying the integrity of the Weezer (Green Album)-era, of which they refer to in the song.

“The British Are Coming” is similarly hokey but has an obscure focus. It begins with snare percussion that is distinctly reminiscent of the American Revolution and opens with the line, “Welcome to the first level liberati/ our mission is to keep the tradition alive.” The song feels more like it should accompany the battle scenes of “The Patriot” rather than in an alternative rock album. The rest of the album follows in this scattered vein.

Weezer has so much pure rock potential, but they squander this album on phony lyrics and perfectly average musical production.

1.2 out of 5 stars