I’ve been a big fan of ex-Weezer bassist Matt Sharp’s band The Rentals for a while now, ever since I had their first album Return of the Rentals recommended to me a few years ago. Weezer will always have a special place in my heart no matter how many terrible albums they release, but Sharp’s work with The Rentals complements their discography nicely with catchy and fun songs and it’s always great news when they emerge with new music.
In “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad”, Sharp reimagines his life and childhood as having been spent locked in a bitter rivalry with the titular inventor and mega-entrepreneur. Sharp, or at least the version of himself he portrays here, appears to view his life as a waste when compared to that of the founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, and this vein of regret and bitterness informs the entire song. The track goes on to imagine a world in which Sharp finds greatness as the first man on Mars, having found his way there on one of Musk’s rockets. It doesn’t matter that this achievement would far more belong to Musk than it would to Sharp; he just wants the same acclaim and notoriety as his rival, and doesn’t care how he gets it. These lyrics are wistful and forlorn, with Sharp pushing his emotive vocals to their limit as jangly guitar lines and subtle synthesisers fill the song out and, appropriately, give it a somewhat spacey feel. The track ends with a choral arr
Lyrical references to Weezer make it impossible not to think that this song isn’t at least somewhat informed by Sharp’s relationship with former bandmate Cuomo. While Cuomo has always been the sole credited writer of most Weezer material, Sharp’s basslines on The Blue Album and Pinkerton were an integral part of what made those records so engaging, and Weezer’s sound has always been a little empty ever since. While they’ve attempted small reunions over the years, their ‘special brand of dysfunction’ has always nipped any new projects in the bud. It’s a real shame, because their strengths are each others’ weaknesses; Cuomo is a great singer and songwriter but is hampered by his own bad taste, while Sharp has a great ability to fill out and add counterpoint to a track but isn’t as interesting a frontman. They produced the best work of their lives together, but as good a song as “Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” is, it’s a somewhat painful reminder of a creative relationship that could have reached even greater height.