Elizabeth Stolfi
staff writer
July 23, 2002
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Rock Music Reviews
Weezer
Maladroit

As much as any rock star would deny trying to be successful, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo gives himself away time and time again. Whether it’s publicly denouncing his hatred for Pinkerton (the band’s second and least successful album), or calling his fans “little bitches” once the album starts doing well, Rivers is as confusing as he is talented. Weezer (or “the green album”), the band’s 2001 release, initially disappointed your typical hard-core fan, but there is no denying its commercial drive with catchy guitar licks and lyrics like that in “Hash Pipe” or “Island in the Sun.”
The recent acceptance of Pinkerton, as shown through album sales, has turned Weezer into one of the biggest cult bands of all time. The release of Maladroit seemed to have been perfectly placed at the height of Pinkerton’s success (as weird as that may sound). The album rocks harder then any other to date, and the guitar solos are unlike anything that’s been present in pop music for decades. Atop a wailing Rivers Cuomo and the crunching of distorted guitars, is the best bass lines Weezer has ever produced (all due respect to departed members Mikey Welsh and Matt Sharp). The new guy, Scott Shriner, musically has elevated Weezer to a different level.
Although the overall mood of the album seems to be good old rock’n’roll, the undeniable highlight is the emotionally powerful “Slob”, in which Rivers takes the roll of his father and yells at himself; “I don’t like how you’re living my life/Get yourself a wife”. Unfortunately, its the only track where you can feel any real emotion in Rivers’ voice (despite their recent categorization as an emotional band). Maladroit seems to be a cry to the rock Gods asking to be taken off the ‘emo’ wagon. Between the scientifically placed leads and the impossible solos, the guitars shine on this album. While Weezer (“the blue album." Confusing isn’t it?) remains to be the best over all record the band has made, Rivers seems to fail intentionally at reproducing the vulnerability and emotion that was present in the infamous Pinkerton.
Maladroit does however make up musically where it fails lyrically. While it does have its moments, like that in “Dope Nose”, the first single; “Cheese smells so good on a burnt piece of lamb/fag of the year who could beat up your man.” Now, who could top that? Throw a few “whoa”s in there and you’ve got yourself a hit. And don’t worry about Rivers. He doesn’t call his fans little bitches all the time. He thanks the Weezer message boards heartily on this album...and then he wrote a song about how much he hates the Weezer message boards. I didn’t say he wasn’t still confused. “You wanna cry when you’re dealing with the kids/they know it all and they’re pinning you to boards.” Ouch.
It may have very little in common with Pinkerton, but Maladroit was also produced by Weezer themselves, rather then Ric Ocasek who worked with the band on both the blue and green albums, perhaps explaining an odd characteristic they share that you can’t seem to put your finger on (other then their reference as the color of the cover). Unlike any other Weezer album, or any other band for that matter, they let the fans decide everything from the track listing, to the album cover artwork. And if you want to know who came up with the title Maladroit, you will have to settle with their user name on the weezer boards.
Whether they hate the fans or love them, despise Pinkerton or embrace it, show too much emotion or none at all, Weezer definitely just makes good rock music.

Release date: May 14, 2002
Label: Interscope
Rating: 9.0 / 10

[RMR]