Weezer

The game is up. I'm not gonna take it anymore. Since 2000's self-titled third album (AKA "The Green Album"), Weezer have been distracting me with the smoke and mirrors of the catchy single/great video combo, while sneaking out a sub-standard album peppered with holes. Hash Pipe provided the magic for that album, while Dope Nose led off Maladroit and Beverly Hills pulled the wool over our eyes for Make Believe.

In fact, that only leaves two albums worth mentioning. The debut "Blue Album" snuck under the radar back in '94 - admittedly backed up by great videos. Follow-up Pinkerton might explain much, as it was universally panned by both critics and fans, before growing in stature to become Weezer's undisputed masterpiece - and one of my own all-time favourites. Auteur band leader River Cuomo laid bare his emotional soul over the Madame Butterfly-themed concept album, but the backlash was what almost certainly forced Cuomo back into the proverbial cave, convincing him to spend the rest of his life in tortured purgatory, writing inane troubled-pop star melodrama.

Couple that with the fact that every album since Pinkerton has made a fortune and the maths of spending a reported million dollars recording this pile of crap are hard to deny. Baring your soul for pennies is no one's idea of fun.

But, here lies the main problem. 4 albums later, while the guitars crunch onwards all he ever seems to tell us is how troubled he is and how the critics don't understand - but the more songs he writes about the critics not understanding, the shorter and shorter the patience runs. "No more words will critics have to speak" sing the band on the faux operatic The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn), re-working the classroom classic with little improvement. If the troubled soul isn't airing it's dirty laundry, it's mucho macho ironic chest-beating ...leading to the stunning rhyme of 'be-atch' with 'ki-ads'. While these inane rhyming couplets provide some amusiment in places, you'll generally be laughing at them, not with them.

Just when you might think Rivers' has stooped as low as he can go, he commits this albums mortal sin: letting the other guys have a go too. Thought I Knew finds guitarist Brian Bell taking the vocals for a slice of trite disco-pop, while drummer Pat Wilson takes lead vocals on Automatic. I dare you to find a more bland slice of by-the-numbers modern rock.

There's a whole bunch of different bonus tracks and what-not, depending on where you buy this record. They manage not to totally massacre a cover of The Band's The Weight and the Broadway musical rock of Miss Sweeney provides some entertaining role-playing as Cuomo smooth-talks his secretary in enjoyingly mis-rhymed lyrics. Heart Songs provides a slightly naff, but mildly touching highlight to the album, as Cuomo takes us through the songs that shaded his past, with the music changing and evolving as the time line progresses. Unfortunatly he wrote himself out of my Heart Songs several albums ago.