| Weezer's big comeback in 2001 was both unexpected and anticipated. The cult following Weezer accumulated in the years following Pinkerton's commercial failure anticipated their "Green Album" with an intense fervor only matched by, say, a Beatles reunion granted John and George were still alive. The casual fans who thought Weezer a fluke after Pinkerton tanked were surprised by their success following the "Green Album"'s release. Clearly, Weezer were here to stay.
Or were they? It seems that a number of fans thought the "Green Album" was too poppy and/or did not meet the expectations set by their two previous releases. Thus, they subsequently (and unfairly) trashed the album as if Weezer had become an incarnate of Limp Bizkit. Would the "Green Album" be another fluke success? Would their renewed stardom come to an end? What was Weezer to do?
Maladroit might be Weezer making those bitter critics of the "Green Album" shut up. Or just alienate them again. Why? Maladroit is hard rock, dude!
Not exactly, but compared to everything else in their catalog, it's their equivalent of a Van Halen or Led Zepplin record (something numerous criticis seem to have noted). The riffs are gleefully crunchy, polished, and crisp, power chords abound everywhere, and those little solos and trills fly at the listener like panties at a Van Halen show circa Diamond Dave. For Weezer, who rose to notoriety with short, punky, poppy bursts of "geek"-rock, all of this might seem a little out of place. But it works, and Maladroit still sounds like a good old Weezer record.
Fans this time around had the chance to hear the record months before its release. The band posted more than half of the record on their site for free download. Hence, the lack of surprise might be a tad disappointing. Many of the tracks, however, sound much better in their finished, polished form (see "Possibilities").
The first single "Dope Nose" features an addictive "ooh-oh" chorus, a kickin' solo, and catchy hook. "Take Control" mixes rougher, darker textures with an upbeat, tuneful hook. "Burndt Jamb" sounds like the birth and death of disco and rise of rock all in one tune. So pretty much, it's Weezer at their quirky best.
Rivers' newfound love of all things spandex and power chords might come across as a bit gimmicky, but for those offended or annoyed, Rivers was wise enough to include a few "traditional" Weezer nuggets. "Keep Fishin'" is perhaps their greatest single since "Buddy Holly," "Death And Destruction" is a mid-tempo number pleasing to those who see Weezer as an "emo" band (which they aren't and never were), and "December" mines the Phil Spector/60's pop era to produce a sad, mournful gem of a song.
Maybe Maladroit will please the "Green Album"-haters, but personally, I enjoyed the Green Album a lot. And was it all that different from the holy-grail-of-Weezer, "The Blue Album?" Not really. And even if Maladroit is appealing (or subtly flilcking off) those who bitched last year, it never comes across contrived. Sure, it's not the most consistent Weezer album, but if you don't bang your head and throw that rock-&-roll staple, the "devil horns" sign, you might want to get your head looked at.
|by Paul Haney|