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Weezer Flaunts Aptitude with 'Maladroit'

By: ChuckCampbell - KnoxNews.com
May 25th 2002 8:14am

Both releases are dense and concise, about a half hour each and crackling with tight tracks that reference an encyclopedic assortment of pop and rock derivations.

After an extended hiatus that followed 1996's disappointing sophomore release "Pinkerton," singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo has clearly found his creative groove. Anything he might borrow from his musical ancestors isn't ripped off so much as it's repackaged to advance the rock cause.

Relying less on the smooth pop melodies that infused the "Green Album," "Maladroit" throws anchor in the deeper and more unsettled waters of 1970s-era hard rock. To be sure, the melodies are still there, swimming in the murk of flurried discordance on "Dope Nose," messy obsession on "Death and Destruction" and wobbly swirls on "Burndt Jamb."

Cuomo and company (including guitarist/Knoxville native Brian Bell) bring the hooks to the surface for emphatic punch on "Keep Fishin' " and the wistful "Slave" (a particularly effective romantic turn for the singer). Meanwhile, a fine melody willfully burrows out of the sludge of "Take Control."

Weezer is also quite lively despite the compressed haze - as on the contagious gallop of the frolicking "Possibilities" and the crunching rhythm of "American Gigolo." Yet the fuzzy mayhem of "Slob," "Space Rock" and "Fall Together" burden the album with a weight that didn't hinder the "Green Album."

"Maladroit" isn't an Album of the Year candidate, but it's an enticing milepost in a potential run of consistency that could elevate Weezer to rock royalty.

Rating (five possible): 3.5