Leave it to Weezer to remind us of simplistic exaltation. Amidst all the chaos of 2016 (mass shootings, an increasingly vitriolic two-party system, an economy collapsing after a globally and seemingly hasty catastrophic decision), music like “I Love the USA” is a much needed breath of emotional clarity. Requested by NASA as part of a series of singles to commemorate the timeliness of their Juno Mission, Weezer’s standout addition is both patriotically sweet and thematically perennial.
Coming off The White Album, the opening piano line is easily predictable, but the inclusion of subdued, electronic thuds and brittle drum beats pair against the instrumentation and familiarities in an unexpectedly profound way. This is a band who’s just spent their comeback toting all that beach life and sunshine has to offer, and now they’re soundtracking interplanetary orbits? Not exactly. “I Love the USA” is still packed with plenty of Weezerisms, most notably a grounded sense of childlike descriptors and innocence, along with the trademark guitar solo (though this time around it opens with a slight reworking of “You’re A Grand Old Flag”).
But in spite of the occasional reliance on comfortabilities and a confusingly drab final sentiment, Rivers Cuomo uses this single to hush the global criticism of America, if not for just a few seconds, shrugging away reality in a blinded, prideful wave of euphoria. It’s a pretty black-and-white way of looking at things, but it’s tough to resist feeling a sense of gratification among Cuomo’s eruption of a chorus. Much like the soft spot so many have for Weezer themselves, “I Love the USA” exudes a point of view that’s so bloated with zealous patriotism that it calls for endearment and a total lack of normal consideration from its listeners. And like most of Weezer’s minimalist approach to the complex, it’s easy to endear.
– Zach W.