Maladroit Nude as the News record review
|Studio album by Weezer
|May 14, 2002
Reviewer: Jon Horowitz (Nude as the News)
Publishing date: Unlisted
|No rating given
The first listen to Weezer's latest offering, Maladroit, is tough to swallow. The milkshake-thick riffs were edgier than those found on the band's previous releases. The vocals were delivered with harsh condescending tones. This was a recipe for a crunchier, rougher Weezer.
But I recall the unappetizing first bites of Pinkerton and the Green Album, the band’s third and untitled LP. With Pinkerton, I expected another "Surf Wax America" or "Undone -- The Sweater Song," and was initially lost in Rivers Cuomo’s hang-ups and the band’s supposed less-than-radio-friendly sound. As I digested Pinkerton, though, I realized it had an inviting dark side, with more artistic integrity than the Blue Album, the band's first and also untitled LP. Same thing happened with The Green Album. I expected Pinkerton-esque longings for lesbians and distant Asian women, but instead got a bubblegum beach song in "Island in the Sun," "Peter Gunn"-meets-drug-culture on "Hash Pipe" and a barrage of other wonderful ditties. Within hours of listening to the album, I was jonesing for more.
So I gave Maladroit the second chance it deserves (and in a much more conducive listening environment – on the open road). I quickly discovered Weezer sounding more raw than ever –- a fresh batch of bold, intense nerd rock delivered well before The Green Album even had a chance to reach its expiration date.
Maladroit combines the best parts of the three previous Weezer albums: creamy guitar riffs, addictive beats, staple "hoo hoo's" and the brilliant mystique of Cuomo’s lyrics. Consider the band a modern, refined version of Kiss – the musical geeks behind the makeup.
"Dope Nose" is Weezer's most infectious tune since "Hash Pipe" or "Buddy Holly." It's got that "I can’t get this song out of my head" quality. Fortunately, you won’t want it out of your head. Also like “Hash Pipe,” "Love Explosion" continues the subtle thievery of riffs and melodies. At times, the song bears a resemblance to "The Loco-Motion." Frightening as this seems, Weezer’s ability to mate cheesy pop with crunchy punk rock gives birth to the band’s signature fresh sound.
“American Gigolo,” the album’s opening track, is tightly crafted musically, and is even better crafted lyrically. Like Pinkerton, Maladroit delves into Cuomo’s psyche, but he only reveals snippets of (if any) personal info. And he scribes these lyrics in some universal code all his own -– simple and concise, yet vague and mysterious –- and always ready to be sung along to. “If you hate this / No, I can’t blame you / Because I’m hurtin’ / So I’ll flame you.” Sure, you can venture at what inner demons possessed Cuomo to write those words (a stab at critics or former fans, perhaps), but it’s just as easy for Jane Listener to use this song as a response to a fight with her boyfriend.
The only disagreement I have with Maladroit, as with previous Weezer LPs, is the album’s length -- clocking in at just over a half hour. But if the band continues to crank out an LP per year, a half hour might be all they’ll need.
So while the first slurp of Maladroit’s extra-thick pop-punk offerings gave me a brainfreeze, I couldn’t help but thirst for seconds, and thirds, and…
— Jon Horowitz