Published Jul 02, 2020Since Weezer and Matt Sharp parted ways in 1998, the two could not have taken more different musical paths. As the former has released a steady stream of dependable (at least in the alt-rock radio world) and mostly predictable stream of hits, Sharp has only reared his head sporadically as a solo artist or as frontman of the Rentals, each time bending expectations and preconceived notions.
The space-themed Q36, his fourth Rentals album in 25 years (and first in six years), follows this trajectory almost too perfectly, giving listeners yet another view of Sharp's casual ambition. Recording as a three-piece, Sharp brings Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. into the fold, while enlisting Dave Fridmann (who worked on Weezer's Pinkerton) to engineer the album.
With wide-lens fuzzed-out guitars, arena-sized drums and a production sound to perfectly confine both, Q36 mostly sounds like the sum of its parts — except for Sharp's parts. After crafting a career through jerky, futuristic and wiry songs, the Virginia multi-instrumentalist now sounds like a bonafide adult, almost crooning on tracks like thumping album highlight "Conspiracy" and the yearning "Another World." Even the most-Weezer-y track on the album, "Nowhere Girl," offers more panache and creativity than his former band has attempted in decades.
Although the album was recorded in late 2019, tracks like "Shake Your Diamonds," "Above This Broken World" and "Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad" seem extremely relevant, demonstrating just how in-tune Sharp remains — musically, lyrically and thematically. Although its runtime of 16 tracks and 67 minute means that a portion of Q36 dips in energy, Rentals fans will no doubt count Sharp's latest outing as a ambitious, astute and listenable achievement. (Independent)