More often than not, a rock album of any significant begins it’s critical and commerical reception with a period of scorn/hatred/ignorance. The reason for this is manifold, but any seasoned listener should be able to attest to the experience that significant albums often take time to sink in, sounding better with each listening.
Weezer is band that has especially suffered from this behaviour complex. Their first album (the blue album) was loved and brought them to international stardom. Every release that followed was met with a harsh critical reception. Pinkerton (their 2nd and best album) got 3/5 stars from Rolling Stone, only to be awarded a perfect score retroactively. Their third offering (the green album) was met with disappointment among fans for lacking the artistic depth of the first two, while still producing several charting singles. All the albums that followed share the same fate as the green album, being negatively compared to the first two.
But no album can be great by sounding the same as the previous one. It is the duty of great works to stand alone, to break down our previous assumptions. Maladroit had to be different then it’s predecessors. It’s not the grundge sounding, international chart topper that was the blue album, nor can it be the emotional honest tear jerker that is Pinkerton. It had to be a thing of it’s own.
Much has been misunderstood about the 80s metal garage sound of the record. What can be said is that it is a distinct recording sound from the previous three records, and that up until that time, nostalgically reviving the dead spirit of hair metal hadn’t been done. Symbolically it’s a perfect fit. It shows River’s yearning to be a rock star (in the 80s sense of the word), while in reality being the king of angry nerd rock. Today geek culture has been reified into a hot commodity, but Maladroit’s beauty lies in the fact that it is natural, unintentional, and unforced. The songs have a bipolar element to them, shifting between a riff heavy, confident, assertive tone; only to transition to a vulnerable melodic chorus.
Maladriot along with the first two Weezer albums are the only ones that exclude filler, meritting a hearing of the album as a whole. The majority of the songs could have been singles, the other’s serve as interesting experiements into new grounds for the band (Burnt Jam, for example, has a Islandy sound). The Green album was a commercial success, Pinkerton was an eventual critical success, the Blue album was both commerically and critically successful. Maladroit remains an anomoly, occupying some strange space inbetween commerical and critical acceptance, while achieving neither. None the less, it remains one of their best efforts, anyone trying to understand or appreciate this band must hear it.