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For all his obsession about writing the "perfect" pop song — a preoccupation that has always made Weezer records sound forced and constricted — Rivers Cuomo comes pretty damned close at the start of this album with a refreshing, ultracatchy ditty named "Troublemaker." Finally, Cuomo and the band deliver the vibrancy and energy that his riff work deserves. From there, though, fans are going to want to have tranquilizers and an extra set of underwear handy, as hearing Cuomo combine rapping, piano, and choral chants on the album's second track will definitely be too much for some to handle. In short, the "red album" is Weezer's most blatantly experimental work to date, and the shock is guaranteed to send the band's hyper-loyal fans into hysterical online debating fits for years. While many of the new touches (like the rapping) might seem embarrassing at first, they not only become charming over time but also underscore Cuomo's newfound bravado. He even steps aside on some songs for each of his bandmates to sing leads. It's about time. This album may take some getting used to, but after years of confining himself to a creative straitjacket, Cuomo has finally made room for Weezer's music to breathe and dropped the third classic he always had in him. It may not be what you were expecting, but give it time to grow on you.

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Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

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