Ah, Mr Cuomo, come in, hop up on the couch, we’re just checking your file. Interesting beard, by the way. Now let’s see: chronic mysanthropy, rampant persecution complex, dropped out of rock band to run away to college, currently devoted to internet girlfriend you’ve never met. Patient also displays deviant self-judgement issues (he insists that his greatest opus and the pinnacle of emo majesty, 1996’s ‘Pinkerton’, is “a shit album”) and congenital fear of bees. Okay then, El Batso, how can we help today? What’s that? You’re releasing a fourth album within a year of your third, you’ve already posted it free on your website and, er, it sounds like ‘Pinkerton’? Nurse! The trepanning drill! Quick, we’ve got a live one!
Rivers Cuomo has long dallied on the ‘DROP THE NAILGUN AND LET THE LITTLE GIRL GO!’ side of the genius/madman divide, but ‘Maladroit’ is by far his most welcome psychotic moodswing to date. Recorded in a manic three-month burst of melodic biliousness, as though physically reacting against the saccharine emo-syrup of 2001’s ‘The Green Album’, ‘Maladroit’ is the world’s first truly interactive album – the tracks were posted on weezer.com as they were completed and visitors were asked to choose the tracklisting and album title. Emo Idol a-go-go, then, and the result is the impeccably filthy, gobby and hypercharged grimepop massacre that ‘Green…’ should’ve been. The polite “woo-hooo”s are now malodorous “WOAH-HOAHH!”s, the twangly-wangly ‘hello birds! Hello trees! Hello monstrous bank balance!’ guitars now emit thunderous rockfalls from the peak of Mount Nerdangst. If ‘The Green Album’ was the charming bouquet to apologise for not calling for five years, ‘Maladroit’ is the rigorous porking in the back of a second-hand Fiesta we’ve been gagging for since 1996. It’s almost as if Rivers cares about music again.
Of course, Emo Law No 1 reads ‘Contentment Breeds Billy Ray Cyrus’, so it helps that ‘Maladroit”s lyrics appear to reflect a life turned unexpectedly to shit. No longerhooked on his harmless ‘Hash-Pipe’, now Rivers is lumbered with a ‘Dope Nose’; no more jolly frolics on his ‘Island In The Sun’, now Rivers squirms tunefully amidst ‘Death And Destruction’ as a ‘Slave’ and a ‘Slob’. The merest sniff of the blood of a cheery vibe brings out the slavering Albini-hound in him, battering The Proclaimers’ ‘Five Hundred Miles’ to a bouncy Scottish pulp on ‘Keep Fishin” and derailing ‘The Locomotion’ on ‘Love Explosion’. We’re hardly talking Tool here, but Weezer have certainly had a few revitalising crowbar blows across the temple and their bruises are beauties.
A misery-affirming, gut-pummeling, soul-ragged and triumphant return to form, then. That mad fuck-freak Cuomo will probably think it’s bollocks in a week.