Shadows in smoke

In music, a band’s genre status does not become calcified until ten, twenty years past the time when something comes out. This makes reviewing especially difficult, as having a set of generic reference points is crucial to explaining your opinon of a particular record—it would be downright unfair to compare, say, Ride the Lightning to Abba Gold. The two albums go for very different things, and both fail or succeed in very different terms.

But what does it mean if the genres keep shifting? Think about Weezer’s first album, the blue one. When that came out, everyone (including me) thought it was totally indie-tastic, a hard-rocking testament to the fact that real, rebellious rock and roll was never gonna die, man. But then, after an emo second album and 15 years worth of pop rock records that range from middling to soul-crushingly horrible, it’s become clear that Weezer were never really alternative, certainly never rebellious. They were guitar pop, a slightly more effective, less moody take on the same territory covered by Collective Soul or Live. Looking back at the reviews of the blue album circa 1995, then, everything seems off and stupid. Why were the reviewers reviewing it in that way, according to those standards?

Which brings me to a smoked fucking Oktoberfest. Maybe someday this will be its own thing—a smoked malty lager category that somehow formally differentiates itself from rauchbiers. But right now, this here, I am drinking a beer that claims to belong to a genre and then it does something that blots out all the distinguishing features of that genre. It’s like a death metal boyband with all the guitars turned up so you can’t hear the boys singing.

This isn’t a very good smoke beer. It’s okay, but problematically carbonated. The first, most salient flavor is a grating fizz, which is followed by smoked wood and light salami nodes. Nothing in here resembles an Oktoberfest.

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