the greatest man that ever lived (variations on a shaker hymn)
seven leaked tracks makes for a pretty good sampling of the upcoming weezer album, which following a theme, is eponymous and in reddish hues. the shiny button of those tracks is "the greatest man that ever lived (variations on a shaker hymn)." grammatical error aside, it's a track that can't quite make up its mind over weather it wants to be an epic piece of rock history or a novel bit of pastiche. in a little more than 6 minutes, the song runs a gauntlet of styles from hip-hop to choral to hair metal, with others dotting the audioscape. lyrically it appears some parts are tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, while others are honest expressions. sometimes its hard to tell the difference.
it seems rivers cuomo is suffering from michael jackson syndrome and makes a point of appearing put upon and responding to fans and critics by making outlandish statements (a la mj's scream and unbreakable) about his sonic prowess. if he'd just written a good pop song and left his personal beef with his fans and critics out of it, we could all just get on enjoying this musical patchwork blanket. instead i'm left wondering whether rivers is really "tearing up the place" or we actually "love" what he's doing, because while certainly the song is ambitious, catchy, and displays a knack for pop music writing, it isn't innovative—there are no knew sounds here—and lacks the empathy that weezer's best stuff evokes in the listener. so the song ends up a false proclamation.
6 out of 9