Weezer, Weezer (Geffen/ Interscope): Listening to "Undone (The Sweater Song)" back in altern-a-riffic 1994 was like sucking nitrous oxide at an indie-rock show: Nerdy disaffection set to an arena-rock chorus and spiced up with a sly sex joke, it was as much a reason as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for everyteens to pogo about their bedrooms, only it sounded a lot more like a novelty one-off than a (purported) Gen-X landmark. Where "Undone" might well have relegated Weezer to the alt-rock scrap heap, '96's Pinkerton managed to amass a tidy little cult of mopey teens and college kids, though its darker set of bad love/ worse sex songs didn't come close to matching the sales of the '94 record. Judging by their latest LP, Weezer (AKA "The Green Album"), Weezer would rather court the black-framed-glasses crowd than the unconverted, even if Interscope's moderately extravagant PR campaign (for a guitar band that hasn't released a record in five years, at least) would suggest otherwise. Sure to be touted as their "mature" record, Weezer casts aside the earlier albums' pubescent jokeyness in favor of a guitar sound that's even more darkly crunchy than Pinkerton. An ample supply of hooks makes Weezer terrific for a night of indie-rock karaoke sometime soon, but those hooks are less of the tart-pop or charmingly-plaintive variety than Cheap Trick-y melodies clad in thrift-store sweaters. As for Rivers Cuomo, he still looks like Buddy Holly, but nowadays when he searches for his mainline, he can only hit it, y'know, sideways — which means that although his tunes are more refined than ever, there's less of an intoxicating effect to 'em (even on the one called "Hash Pipe"). "Island in the Sun" and "Photograph," two of the most subtly polished (and just plain subtle) numbers he's ever turned out, don't reach anthem-hood à la oldies like "Undone" or "El Scorcho." That's too bad for anyone who's indulged in Weezer's music rather than admired it, but even with Cuomo waxing hazily melancholic rather than stoopidly anthemic, Weezer's sure to be a hit with those who still buy into his main stock-in-trade: adolescent catharsis made hummable. — Christian David Hoard

copyright (c) 2001 michael goldberg | design by elephantcloud