There's a classic episode of The Little Rascals where one of the gang can't join everybody else on the ballfield because he has to stay home with his younger brother, who has the croup. "I can't come out and play," he whines. "I've got to stay home and grease Wheezer!" Nobody at Geffen Records knows whether this was the inspiration in naming Weezer, but it makes sense. Like many of their peers, the members of the Los Angeles quartet seem to have spent their formative years in front of the TV; when they were a little older, they were just as entranced by college rock. Finally, ala the Rascals, one of the gang said, "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!," and the result is Weezer's uplifting, unpretentious, and extremely endearing debut.
The self-titled Weezer is lean and mean at 10 short, punchy tunes, but nearly every one is powered by a larger-than-life chorus or a simple but effective lyric. "Undone-The Sweater Song" uses an unraveling sweater as a metaphor for a relationship on the rocks; "Buddy Holly" pays heartfelt tribute to the '50s rocker, and "In the Garage" paints a scene of suburban teens jamming while surrounded by posters of Kiss. Producer Ric Ocasek of Cars fame pushes the vocals and rhythm guitars, and this bare-bones approach may earn comparisons to fellow garage-pop band Green Day. But Weezer has more in common with the late, lamented Big Dipper, another group of slacker wiseguys that you just had to love. --Jim DeRogatis