There seems to be only two possible reactions to Weezer: rabid fandom or ambivalence.
The folks who get it, get it, and everyone else is left to shrug and say, “Meh.”
A friend of mine took me to a Weezer concert in hopes of converting me, and it didn’t really work. Mostly, it was the asshole frat boy who made me spill my beer on myself, then proceeded to tell me to watch it.
But I can’t say that cover of the Pixies’ “I Bleed” was all that convincing either. Why is it called “The Sweater Song” anyway?
Given those lack of Weezer fan creds, why a review of Maladroit?
Lionize someone like Rivers Cuomo long enough and curiosity eventually takes hold.
Plus, he reminds me of two guys I have crushes on.
If memory serves me correctly, Weezer’s two self-titled albums have often been cited as the template for the band’s basic aesthetic — a double-wide guitar sound backing Phil Spector-ish melodies.
At its core, Maladroit sticks with the program. Cuomo still delivers those sing-song melodies, and the guitars are every bit as crunchy as everyone says.
But compared to 2001’s “Green Album” — some of which I sampled through file sharing, thanks for asking — Maladroit is crunchier. There’s something a lot more forward with the way Cuomo and fellow guitarist Brian Bell hammer on their riffs.
When the pair attacks the choruses of “Fall Together”, “Slave” and “American Gigolo”, the songs transform from pop ditties to Big Rawk Moments. This is the stuff air guitars were made for.
Maladroit also sounds a lot rougher. Cuomo could almost give Number Girl’s Mukai Shutoku a run for his money the way he spits out the excoriating lyrics of “Slob”. “Take Control” feels like it could have been an early 90s anthem finessed at the sound board by Butch Vig. (Work with me here — I’m trying not to evoke the name Cobain.)
Even a slow song like “Death and Destruction” sports some picking reminiscent of those guitar god albums from the late 80s.
Put together, all these elements make a convincing case Weezer deserves some of the accolades they’ve so far garnered.
I’d almost go so far to say Maladroit is the Weezer album for people who don’t really think anything of Weezer. Not only do you get the band’s trademark pop-punk sound, it comes with some nice, heavy axework.
P.S. Don’t tell me to check out “the Blue Album”. I got sick of hearing all the radio hits, and I still think that Pixies cover sucks.