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LOVE 'EM or hate 'em, Weezer's back yard always used to be a shiny, happy place to hang out. Sure, they'd get the odd beating for letting their mothers choose their shirts and the occasional telling off for losing their sweaters. The usual pangs of adolescent angst - admittedly unusual for men in their late 20s - but nothing they couldn't exorcise with a few crunching pop riffs and a quick hug with Mr Comfort Blanket in the garage. Otherwise, it was a chirpy yet contented place; somewhere to hang up your surf shorts, grab a slice of bombast and frolic carefree, untroubled by such hoary concepts as integrity or fashion. Yet, after two years as the Green Day whose pint you wouldn't worry about spilling, all is turmoil chez Rivers Cuomo. And, you feel, it's all to do with not knowing what he wants. One minute he's wracked with groupie guilt in 'Sick Of Sex', the next he's yelping, "Why bother?/It's gonna hurt me/It's gonna kill when you desert me", in the rompalong 'Why Bother?'. Then, before you know it, he's yearning for a bit of trouser freedom again in 'The Good Life'. And all that's before he falls for a lesbian in 'Pink Triangle'.

Which is all very well, if only he didn't occasionally follow the easy, true American path of expressing inner angst - turning up your guitar and screaming like a strangled ox. Which is where we find 'Getchoo' and 'Falling For You', wallowing in a swamp of histrionic self-pity and smelling faintly of spandex. Thankfully, Rivers can still counter his desire to 'lick axe' with peachy pop tunes, so 'No Other One', 'El Scorcho' and 'Why Bother?' all fall on the right side of the Tad barrier.

And, as if gradually drowning those inner demons, it gets softer. By the time the affecting acoustic lament 'Butterfly' wafts in like Big Star at a wildlife protection meeting, 'Pinkerton' starts feeling like a truly moving album. No, really.

So the colours will never be quite as bright in the Weezer play-pen again. Fine. Let's just put off the Dr Ruth appointments for a while yet, shall we?


Rating: 7