Review Summary: There is a lot to enjoy here from the frontman we love to hate (sometimes).
Weezer is the definitive love/hate band. There is no denying from 1994's Blue Album
and 1996's Pinkerton
that frontman/songwriter Rivers Cuomo is a master at crafting melodies. But the subsequent breakup and the abortions of albums that were released following their reunion have not built upon their reputation well (save for the lovely "Island in the Sun"). While Rivers seems to be winning back fans with his latest release, Everything Will Be Alright in the End
, his lyricism continues to be downtrodden with vague metaphors and the overall fear that he will be met with the same criticism that he received after getting quite personal on the trashed-at-the-time Pinkerton
. This collection of demos, however, is a nice reminder of what Rivers can accomplish, although some horrendous tracks turn this into a hodgepodge.
The tracks on Alone
were recorded as demos from before the release of the Blue Album
all the way up to late 2007. Some of them (tracks 7-9 and 11-12 specifically) were initially created as a part of Weezer's scrapped space-rock-opera project Songs from the Black Hole
. These are some of the best tracks on the album, and are very reminiscent of the Pinkerton
-era angst that these demos come from. ("Blast Off!" and "Superfriend" in particular feature some very strong and very catchy songwriting by Rivers.) That isn't to say the rest of the album has its moments. "Lover in the Snow" is a very infectious slab of power-pop, and "I Was Made for You" is a strong enough song to where it was a clear mistake that it didn't make the cut for Make Believe
(although maybe it could be viewed in a better light here than on that train wreck.) There is a lot of stuff to like here.
That said, there is a lot to skip here, as well. As much as I would like to say that artists should stray from their comfort zone and try out different genres and new sounds, the paths that Rivers takes sound like they should stay as demos. "Buddy Holly" pales in comparison to the studio version, but it's interesting to hear it in this form to see the subtle changes the studio versions made to drastically improve the song. "The Bomb" sees Rivers screams Ice Cube lyrics to the point where any irony Rivers might have been attempting is lost, as drums and guitar fuzz about. "This is the Way" features some FL Studio-type drum machine, canned strings, and awful lyrics on River's part. I get that it's a demo, but this track in particular should never have seen the light of day.
So, at the end of the day, it's mostly a mix of a bunch of stuff, good and bad. While there are some misfires mixed in, there's a lot of high points here to make it not only cohesive, but worthwhile.