You Blew It!
You Blue It
by Chad Jewett
In the most literal sense, You Blue It, the new EP from Orlando band You Blew It! is all about what the emo quintet has to say about Weezer. But, in reality, the short record is much more interesting for what it has to say about You Blew It. Made up of four songs from Weezer’s breakthrough 1994 debut (mostly known now as “The Blue Album,” hence the pun in the EP’s title) and a well-liked B-side from the same era, You Blue It strikes one as a fascinating study in how You Blew It! approach guitar-pop, song-structure, and their own record collections. If a covers album is always more or less a paint-by-numbers project, the chief interest of this particular EP comes from the ways in which You Blew It! color outside the lines.
Indeed, the band’s choice in songs is already telling. Resolutely avoiding the three vaunted hits of The Blue Album (“Buddy Holly,” “Undone,” and “Say It Ain’t So”), You Blew It! instead concentrate on all the moments where Weezer are at their most elliptical, the songs that are simultaneously sad and playful, and more opaque about both. That sort of density and distance defined some of the subtleties of You Blew It’s Keep Doing What You’re Doing, an album that featured a deeper commitment to melody but also a feeling of remove. For the first time the band was writing pop songs, but with the exception of the bounding “Award of the Year Award,” those songs were introverted and understated. One might think of an interlude spent in Rivers Cuomo’s outsized approach to melodic punk music as an opportunity for You Blew It! to see how far they can push themselves, and yet the songs the band selects are precisely the one’s already closest to You Blew It’s center of gravity.
Take “My Name Is Jonas,” whose quiet/loud sense of drama shows up more than once on Keep Doing, perhaps explaining the reverence with which the band re-creates the song. Elsewhere, “Surf Wax America” is tinkered with, “In The Garage” is scuffed up, and “Only In Dreams” is deconstructed, given the sort of playful Americana reading you might expect from say, M. Ward or The Elected, all glimmering ice-capade keyboards and delayed arrivals. All throughout it’s a great pleasure to hear Tanner Jones, whose voice has grown increasingly capacious and confident in its transparency, own Cuomo’s sing-song melodies. The gruff shouts of Keep Doing What You’re Doing lent that album weight, but there’s something uniquely moving in the readings Jones finds at the top of his range. The singer lends pathos to the self-conscious goofiness of “In The Garage,” finding sadness where Cuomos had previously only laid out Star Wars-generation signifiers and a certain kind of irony (which, along with KROQ cynicism, has sadly taken over Weezer).
Hearing Jones work through Cuomo’s melodies, obsessions, and details leads one to hope for You Blew It’s version of that specificity and worldview. A best-case scenario is one where You Blew It! spent as much time as possible thinking about why these five songs are salient enough to (re)work this hard on in the first place. Watching the band carve out their version of these classics leaves you eager to see if You Blew It! can tell us something additional about themselves when it comes time for them to not re-write, but to instead start with a blank page. We know all about the records and board games and posters in Weezer’s garage. Now let’s hear about what’s in You Blew It’s.