Rivers Cuomo

    {grate 3.5}

    With many critics claiming Weezer’s 2005 release, Make
    Believe, was an all-time artistic low, front man Rivers Cuomo ditched his
    typical “bad album” game plan of isolated tantrums and extraneous educational
    pursuits, instead releasing an album that brings the geeky alt-rock quartet’s
    fans back to the good ol’ days of de-threaded sweaters and sing-songy melodies.

    Ranging from tracks recorded between 1992 and 2007, the
    18-song compilation reveals rough drafts, conversation snippets and obscure
    covers, immersing listeners in Cuomo’s longtime influences and indulgent
    experiments. While 30-second cuts added for sentimental value (“I Wish You Had
    an Axe Guitar” features a pre-pubescent Cuomo professing his dedication to
    emulating K.I.S.S.) and eccentric supplemental liner notes are for longtime
    admirers, the majority of Alone’s tracks hark back to the traditional Weezer
    concoction of gratifying melodies, honest lyrics, growling layers of distorted
    electric guitars and clanky cymbals among relentlessly simple drumbeats.

    However, rare tracks like Cuomo’s cover of Gregg Alexander’s
    “The World We Love So Much” expose strained and emoting vocals paired with
    persistent acoustic plucking that contradict Weezer’s typical sound, proving
    our square-rimmed buddy to be more than just a one-trick pony.

    Although most of Alone’s love ballads balance the cheese
    factor with underlying tones of frustration and anger, recently recorded tracks
    like “This is the Way” approach boy-band status with whispered nothings and
    empty lyrics (“I will never leave/ Because you’re the air I breathe”)
    confirming, sadly, that perhaps Cuomo’s outfit — due for a 2008 release — has
    passed its prime.

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