Rhythm & Views

Rivers Cuomo

Listening to Alone is sort of like looking at naked baby pictures of Rivers Cuomo in his bathtub. Or like coming across a box of embarrassingly strange pictures he drew as a teenager of made-up space aliens.

Some of the tracks hearken back to the early days of Weezer: There's "Lemonade," with the beautifully simple chorus of, "Oh, happy day! Oh, lemonade!" Then there's a demo version of "Buddy Holly" that's slower and more relaxed than the album version we've all come to know and love. There's the goofy cover of Ice Cube's "The Bomb," and the first song Cuomo wrote for the 1995 movie Angus, "Wanda (You're My Only Love)." Some songs, like "Lover in the Snow," "I Was Made for You" and "Longtime Sunshine" are more album-worthy than most of the tracks on Weezer's last two albums, and the version of "Little Diane" with Sloan as the backing band is pretty much my idea of perfection.

But the best things by far about this collection are the tracks from Cuomo's never-released rock musical, Songs From the Black Hole. Cuomo explains in the liner notes that Black Hole was conceived and recorded in Germany during Weezer's European tour in 1995. The concept eventually morphed into 1996's Pinkerton, and, hence, the bridge between Cuomo's often-conflicting songwriting styles and the transition from the blue album to Pinkerton is finally audible: "Dude We're Finally Landing" is a cappella awesomeness, and "Superfriend" sounds like a distant cousin of Pinkerton's "No Other One." Weezer's missing link has finally surfaced.