Album review: Rivers Cuomo's 'Alone II'
One of the saddest songs on "Alone II," Rivers Cuomo's second album of unreleased demos, is about sipping Grey Goose in a VIP club suite while surrounded by a bevy of hotties. In the hands of, say, T-Pain, "Can't Stop Partying" would be an Auto-Tuned symphony of conspicuous consumption. But when it's just Cuomo's quavering voice and an acoustic guitar lamenting how "I got to have Patron, I got to have the E, I got to have a lot of pretty girls around me," one gets a faint hint of a broken man.
Weezer albums of late have tried masking Cuomo's myriad insecurities (girls, addictions and his own songwriting prowess) with dumb-as-a-post riffing and lyrics so hokey that they must be some kind of inside joke for an audience of one. But stripped of Big Rock pomp, "Alone II" is a more tender take on those concerns, with a few revealing moments of sweet-hearted guitar pop. "Don't Worry Baby" stacks surf-rock harmonies atop a thick lick of fuzz, and "I Was Scared" is vintage Sunny Day Real Estate proto-emo jangle.
Between this and the first "Alone" installment, there's enough gristle for the third-best Weezer album as yet unmade. Cuomo's Patron problems are beatable -- it's the "Pork & Beans" that's really derailed him lately.
-- August Brown
* * (2 stars)