Rocking out over heartbreak rarely sounds as good as it does from Rivers Cuomo, and on Malaroit, Weezer have turned the amps up to 11.
Maladroit, the love child of Pinkerton and Weezer (A.K.A. "the Green album"), combines power pop and self-loathing with a dash of heavy metal (a sonic ingredient only hinted at on the group's three previous albums).
In the past, Weezer were the quirky band that wrote catchy songs about unraveling sweaters and, yes, heartbreak. When their debut, also titled Weezer. was released in 1994, my friends and I would sing "Say It Ain't So" at the top of our lungs, even though we had no idea what we were singing about, as we were about 12 years old. The songs on that first album (now referred to as "the Blue album") stuck in our brains, though, and eventually we had a soundtrack for first breakups.
Weezer have kept to what they know: writing songs about love and heartbreak. But Maladroit approaches the topic in a new way. We're first confronted with the growl of "American Gigolo": "Back off now baby, I'm a loner...," Cuomo sings. "If you want me, you can't have me." Later on the album, he softly breathes through the verses of "Death and Destruction," and cries out in the chorus: "Every time that I call you find some way to ditch me." Towards the album's end, the band switches gears yet again in songs like "Love Explosion" and "December": "Only love can ease the pain of a boy caught in the rain... We give our best away." In 30 minutes, Cuomo goes from rejector to rejectee and then finally finds acceptance in love, pounding out the rock at every turn.
Weezer can now embark on stadium tours with their giant "=W=" sign without a trace of irony. Maladroit is the emo equivalent of '70s arena rock a bracingly cocky attitude that tag-teams with its partner, navel-gazing.