Here's what Rivers himself had to say about the production of the Red Album:
"Our approach was to get into the studio and try to blow our minds with whatever we wanted to do. To just have fun, so that when we pressed play and listened back to what we did, our minds were just blown. That was the goal."
While I've never considered Weezer to be "mind blowing", nor do I consider their latest release "mind blowing". But, whatever it is they did to blow their own minds seems to have worked. The Red Album was the record Weezer fans (like myself) were waiting for back in 2001. Instead they got less than 30 minutes of effortless, impersonal song writing -- all ten songs follow the verse-chorus-bridge structure with only slight deviations, punctuated with incredibly weak guitar solos that repeat exactly the preceding chorus or verse. A casual listen to either the Blue Album or Pinkerton reveals that the band is capable of much more in regards to every aspect of song writing and delivery.
The Red Album is Weezer doing what they do best: having fun -- an approach the band should've taken on previous albums. (Go listen to "El Scorcho" or "Holiday" and tell me the band wasn't having fun with those songs. I dare you.)
A few highlights from Red include:
"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" -- A Bohemian Rhapsody-esque epic.
"Heart Songs" -- Mentions Gordon Lightfoot and Cat Stevens in the first 20 seconds of the song. What more do you need?
"Thought I Knew" -- Sung by Brian, Rivers on drums, Pat on guitar.
"Automatic" -- A sweet jam written and sung by Pat.
"The Angel And The One" -- Weezer hasn't been this emo since Pinkerton and I love it!
Lyrically, the album has a few weak spots. At one point it sounds like Rivers wrote lyrics with a rhyming dictionary, but apparently even that took too much effort so he threw it out ("Troublemaker"). Then Scott must've picked it up to write "Cold Dark World". In addition, there's a severe lack of guitar solos, which is not the norm for Weezer. Luckily, this doesn't detract from the album, though solos would certainly add to it.
Then there's the Deluxe Edition. Of the four extra tracks, "Miss Sweeny" (reminiscent of Blue Album b-sides "Jamie" and "Susanne") and "Pig" are best.
I certainly hope Weezer follows the "mind blowing, having fun" formula to record their future albums. They should work to please themselves and write for the sake of the music, not the industry or even the fans. I look forward to future albums, but in the meantime I'll enjoy, to quote Michael Cera, "the best thing to happen to music since 1996."