My relationship with Weezer is like that of a girlfriend: There have been many ups and downs. Of course, the ups & downs are expected in any strong relationship, but whereas the ups & downs with my girlfriend are scattered throughout the relationship, all the ups with Weezer are from 1994 to 2000, and all the downs are from 2001 up until April 30th, 2002. And while the downs with my girlfriend are usually resolved with lots of apologizing, compromising, and gift hurling, it's as if me and the four nerds were not even on speaking terms. Until now, that is. Enter: Maladroit.
Although not quite as visceral as Pinkerton or its eponymous debut album, Weezer's fourth album is stylistically, lyrically, and musically superior to the Green Album. The most welcome elements to return on Maladroit is the dynamics and interesting song structures. The Green Album had little dynamic range, causing the album to sound pastiche, watered-down, and disgustingly mundane. On the other hand, Maladroit consists of a plethora of volumes, keeping things fresh and exciting. And where the Green Album had song structures even Miss Cleo could predict (especially those damn guitar solos that mimicked the vocal melody), Maladroit is replete with creative guitar solos and interesting riffs.
The two most discernable songs on Maladroit are also among the most satisfying: "Burndt Jamb" and "Death and Destruction." The former is a jangly, upbeat song a la "Fly" by Sugar Ray, albeit much more satisfying, featuring the most melodic tune Rivers has ever penned. The latter is a snail-paced ballad, trading thick, distorted power chords for arpeggios and an uncharacteristically soulful Rivers. The beautiful outro is the stand-out moment of the album, floating toward its beautiful demise. As the song ascends toward the heavens, it ends prematurely, leaving the listener in a hopeful haze. Weezer is at the point in its career where it needs to take some chances to avoid repetition, and this song sounds like the construction of a bridge to something luminous.
However, there are some definite weak spots on the album, such as "American Gigolo," with its puerile verses; "Fall Together," with its cheesy guitar noodling; and "Love Explosion," with its extremely derivative melody, shamelessly stolen from the infamous "Locomotion." But maybe that was Weezer's intent, as even the title "Love Explosion" sounds like "Locomotion." Despite the flaws, the songs show the band treading toward something new. With each subsequent listen, it sounds as if the band is struggling to find a new sound to describe them, but essentially, that is every band's albatross. Even if it may not be consistently on the dot, it's better than re-hashing (pun intended) the same shit.
In retrospect, that green album seems more like the couple of dribbles a basketball player needs before a free throw to get back in rhythm-- a practice album, if you will. Reasons supporting this theory are (1) the band was denied the right to self-produce the Green Album like they did with Pinkerton, (2) the band's first set of demos for the Green Album was ultimately rejected by the record label, Geffen, and (3) the Green Album just wasn't very strong. On the contrary, Maladroit was produced by the band, and they were even hesitant to turn it over to Geffen because it was such a personal thing to them. In addition, the band must have a giant collective pair, as they sent a Maladroit sampler to radio stations without the permission of the label.
I think of Maladroit as an album breaking with traditions, such as the former 10-song Weezer standard and eponymous/color-associated album titles. It's the kind of album that wouldn't have received such polar reviews if it were released in place of the Green Album. More importantly, I don't think Weezer would have lost those die-hard Pinkerton aficionados. The sad thing is, so many people are still bitter about the whole situation that they may not even hear Maladroit. It ultimately boils down to respect. After the Green Album, all respect was thrown out the window. But with Maladroit, the respect is back; and to this reviewer, respect is the foundation in which love is built upon. Hoping for another Pinkerton is as stupid and naive as hoping for another OK Computer, and I'm optimistic that, what with the band already recording more "experimental" songs, me and Weezer are going to have to renegotiate our relationship over a candlelit dinner.
OR MAYBE I'M JUST IN DENIAL.
1. American Gigolo
2. Dope Nose
3. Keep Fishin'
4. Take Control
5. Death And Destruction
7. Burndt Jamb
8. Space Rock
10. Fall Together
12. Love Explosion