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Weezer
Weezer
(Geffen)

It looks like Rivers Cuomo learned some important stuff at Harvard. He likely studied the writings of Goethe and the industrialization of the Western world. And he surely brushed up on post-classicism and music theory. But -- judging from Weezer's latest disc -- the most significant thing he learned was: "Everyone makes mistakes."

In his case, the mistake was Pinkerton -- the angry, introspective 1997 record that took Weezer out of the mainstream. That's probably why the new record is self-titled, just like the band's first infectious release. Also, as on that disc, the spartan album art features the four Weezer boys against a colored background -- only this time, it's green, not blue. And if you use Ivy League inductive reasoning, you might conclude that the background is no longer blue because Cuomo has shaken his melancholy and rediscovered the bliss of optimistic power pop.

Yup, the angst and fury of 1997's Pinkerton is a thing of the past, as the band indulges in the kind of buzzing hooks and euphonic harmonies that made songs such as "Buddy Holly" and "Undone (The Sweater Song)" such huge hits. Plus, the band throws in a few twists. "Hash Pipe" is Nirvana-lite music for a spy video game, the reggae-fied "Island in the Sun" could be Sugar Ray if that band was raised on the Smiths and Cocteau Twins, and "Glorious Day" mixes minor-key moodiness with ecstatic melodies. A smart move from a smart band.

Jon Wiederhorn
CDNOW Contributing Writer