Weezer – Maladroit (Interscope)

Weezer’s resurfacing last year with the eponymous “green album” raised more questions than it answered: what took them so long? why was the record so short? what happened to the complex songs of Pinkerton? Weezer gave all sorts of excuses and justifications in interviews but it really takes the release of Maladroit to begin to answer the important questions.

The green record and Maladroit can be seen as a set — one answers the other. Literally, as Maladroit’s “Take Control” twists a lyric from green’s “Crab.” Green’s 10 song, 28 minute set was taut and homogenous. Maladroit’s 13 tracks are not cohesive in style or theme. As a result, Maladroit is not the concise listen-from-start-to-finish kind of record that its predecessor was. Maladoit’s best songs stand far above green’s, but also outshine other tracks on this record, making you apt to skip around the tracks.

Some of the emotional complexity of Pinkerton has returned. “Love Explosion” could have fit in nicely on that album. The dark lyric “they’ve been wanting to kill you in your sleep” is sung over messy guitars. In “Slob,” which may be the best tune here, Rivers spits out his vituperative lyrics backed by a great tension-building arrangement. As testament to Maladroit’s heterogenous nature, “Slob” is followed by the sappy lyrics and breezy music of “Burndt Jamb.”

Don’t let this fool you into thinking Weezer aren’t the pop band they’ve always been. They’re just thinking bigger and rocking harder. The opening four tracks’ crunchy guitars and big drums make it apparent that Weezer are happy playing the big rooms. “Keep Fishin'” is among the best tunes they’ve ever recorded. “Possibilities” is a short pop-punk number that fuses Cuomo’s vocal melody to a quick beat. And “Slave” is just gold — uplifting and forlorn in under three minutes. The five year wait is still a mystery but with their current work ethic, Weezer prove they are one of the most vital mainstream rock bands in the world.