Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo
Throughout his career, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo has been on a quest for authenticity. A follow-up to last year’s Alone, Alone II is an all-access look into Cuomo’s psyche, for better or worse, via song and extensive autobiographical liner notes. Musically, Cuomo finds it difficult to self-edit, presenting 19 uneven tracks. Three songs from a scrapped “new wave-influenced rock musical” are resurrected but are nothing more than grainy novelties. “Paperface,” a fiery mash-up of Pixies energy and Brian Wilson melody, feels incomplete. There are some gems to be found, however, if you’re willing to dig deep enough to find them. “Cold and Damp” has a warmly distorted, languid chord progression, and would have done nicely as a Weezer B-side; and “I Was Scared,” an infectiously noisy power-pop track, shows Cuomo lyrically apologetic, recalling an incident where he didn’t defend his younger brother from bullies. Listening to Alone II, it’s hard to tell if Cuomo is the irritable “band Nazi” he’s often perceived as or the vulnerable man-boy unable to reconcile his past mistakes. He’s probably still trying to figure that out himself.