The divide between fans of Weezer’s early power-pop and folks who enjoy their more recent pop-centric escapades is so severe that it inspired a Saturday Night Live sketch. While I do think that there was a period a decade or so ago when Rivers Cuomo seemed a bit bereft of ideas (Hurley, Raditude), the band has never completely lost it. Even their least satisfying albums have a couple of gems tucked away.
2017’s Pacific Daydream contains a gem, the infectious “Happy Hour”. It’s an absolutely infectious ode to finding a ray of sunshine on the worst of days (and not necessarily in a bar, although the song lends itself well to pub jukebox singalongs). Rivers sings in character as an office drone who’s getting his ass handed to him at work. He pictures himself as Stevie Ray Vaughan shredding on stage, then as Ponce de Leon on a discovery mission. By the song’s bridge, he’s imagining himself in a slow dance with a lady, digging on the feeling of being close to someone he loves. You can’t be mad at a song that tries so hard to get to a happy place.
“Happy Hour” is tricked out with the latest 21st century production accoutrements (no Auto-Tune though, thankfully), which might not sit well with Ric Ocasek’s shiny but basic production style that marked Weezer circa 1994. I think the sonic shift is more a reflection of Rivers’ desire to push his music forward more than it is a desperate measure to make a hit. Calculated or not, “Happy Hour” hits me right in the feels and never hesitates to put a smile on my face.