Whether You Like It Or Not, Rivers Cuomo Won't Leave You Alone
Alone-the Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo leaked on December 12th, nearly a week before the offical December 18th release date. Cuomo’s skill has previously lain in the ability to successfully go against whatever the current fashion is in popular music, but the question remains: is he past his point in relevancy?
In the early 90s, grunge music voiced the alienation of youth rejecting the fatuous superficiality of the previous reign of hair metal, but the over-posturing, flannel, and artfully ripped jeans left yet another group disenfranchised by this new brand of elitism. The nerds. Then Weezer appeared in 1994 with the self-titled, pet-named Blue Album. Rivers Cuomo became their God, descanting the dorky dogma of twelve-sided di, not living up to Dad’s expectations, and girls that could only ever talk to them in dreams. Cuomo’s finely tuned pop sensibility proved a neatly wrapped gift to the Billboard Charts, garnering comparisons to heavyweight icons like the Brian Wilson. There was nothing unattainable about their appeal, but an air of coolness was achieved and maintained by highly memorable Spike Jonze music videos; even the Fonz rocked out to “Buddy Holly.”
Then in the wake of this victory, Cuomo birthed the oddity that is Pinkerton. Some can’t recall it being released, wondering for years what happened to that “Sweater Song” band. Others were horrified by the duckling baby, promptly sticking the CD in the stack to be brought into the Wherehouse with other musical misadventures to be traded in for a new one. Lastly though, there were those who embraced it, tenderly and ravenously, as the only friend that understood, much in the same way as Weezer’s first release. Love it or hate it, the cult of Pinkerton, the record that nurtured the sapling seed of Emo, was nothing short of a phenomenon. Outwardly, Weezer looked to be a band past its moment; a member had left, the dejected front-man had returned to the solitude of academia, but rabid fans would just not let them die. The resurrection in the form of the Green Album, regardless of any neigh-saying from followers of the Pinkerton school embittered by the new effort which returned to Weezer’s power pop roots, returned Weezer and Cuomo back to the domain of glossy music journalistic coverage and world tours, hedging forward with new album after album, Maladroit and Make Believe.
So now Cuomo bestows his most recent offering in the form of Alone-the At Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, which despite the megalomaniacal ring, is in fact a Weezer release. There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this pastiche of Weezer scraps from the 15 years of their incarnation: songs that pre-date the Blue Album, songs from the mythic Songs from the Black Hole, a release which mutated into Pinkerton, an alternate choice for the song Weezer did for the Angus movie soundtrack, and cuts from Make Believe. Some are sure to scoff at the release as way to profit off the waste of the past. Knowing the influence Cuomo bears on the psyche of current pop music, the collection is destined for more than just the archives of die-hard Weezer aficionados.