Weezer’s 10th EP, SZNZ: Winter, takes listeners on a seven-song journey of despair, sadness and longing. The album marks the fourth EP to be released by the ’90s rock band in 2022 alone, and it concludes its SZNZ (pronounced “seasons”) project. Following the project’s pattern of the releases — each album came out on the solstice of its respective season — SZNZ: Winter was released Dec. 21, 2022.
Weezer’s lead vocalist, guitarist, pianist and songwriter Rivers Cuomo envisioned this fourth piece of its ambitious project for the past year as centering on feelings of loss and despair. The depth of these emotions, however, varies from track to track, getting progressively deeper throughout the album. The lyrics are uplifted by the amplified electronic and bass guitar characteristic of rock music but not in a way that is catchy enough to captivate audiences. To listeners unaccustomed with and unattuned to this style, many of the EP’s songs simply wail on.
Cuomo eases listeners in with the soft opening of his lead single “I Want a Dog.” Upon reaching the song’s chorus, he is backed by the band’s typical full-bodied instrumentalization as he claims, “I made the wrong choice/ Now I must pay the price.” This is likely referencing the choice his family made by adopting cats instead of a dog, a lighthearted topic in the context of what is to come in future songs.
The next track, “Iambic Pentameter,” swiftly moves into more complex sources of despair — namely, the inability to express oneself in the context of a failing relationship. Frenzied guitars, strings and percussion close out the song, perfectly mirroring the frustration of being unable to control a complex interpersonal situation. Of the EP’s seven tracks, this is the only one with a chorus catchy enough to be running through your head long after the final chord.
“Sheraton Commander” features a weak instrumental opening that samples Tomaso Albinoni’s “Adagio in G minor.” The lyrics reference different locations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Cuomo’s alma mater, Harvard University. With lines such as, “I remember these streets/ But it all doesn’t mean/ What it used to to me,” the melancholy invoked by this track is that of no longer being able to recognize a place that once held great significance.
Weezer’s sound has teetered closer to pop over the years, but the EP’s final track, “The Deep and Dreamless Sleep,” reasserts the group’s reverence for hard rock and heavy metal music by concluding with a hard-hitting extended guitar solo. As its name suggests, this song’s lyrics dive even further into feelings of loss with allusions to the death of a loved one.
Cuomo noted in a 2021 interview that this album returns to the band’s roots in ways that the earlier pieces of SZNZ do not. He points specifically to the amount of fingerpicking and acoustic guitar in the tracks — more than Weezer has used since its first year together. Other homages to the band’s storied past include the bridge to “Iambic Pentameter,” re-appropriated from Cuomo’s 2004 recording of “You and Me Together” and the bridge to “I Want a Dog,” taken from the melody of Weezer’s 2021 song “Still Dreaming” from the film The Space Between.
SZNZ: Winter does not include a hit as iconic as some of the band’s previous successes — among them “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.” Because of this, the EP appeals more to diehard Weezer fans than new, more mainstream audiences. Perhaps the overall feeling of longing in this album is a longing for the good ol’ days — which, it appears, may have already passed for Weezer.