Now that the blockbuster album is an endangered species, major labels scour musical niches in search of the next disc capable of selling 50,000 copies.
Weezer fans are the perfect niche market. More than a dozen years after their favorite band gained fame with "Undone - The Sweater Song" and "Buddy Holly," they're still fascinated with the elusive and charismatic frontman, Rivers Cuomo. Alone is a collection of 18 home demos recorded over 15 years by the Harvard-educated songwriter whose quirky, slacker-friendly songs helped define '90s alternative.
As an album intended to provide a window on the process of Cuomo's songwriting, Alone has rough edges and moments of raw beauty. The standout track is "Longtime Sunshine." What's always made Cuomo's music interesting is its sense of heavy-sigh resignation when confronted with the wonders of everyday life, and this track perfectly reflects that vibe.
"Sometimes I want to pack it all up, get on the bus and move to Vermont," sings Cuomo in passive tones.
"Lemonade," a demo that predates Weezer's debut album, shows Cuomo can elicit his brand of pop pathos even when the instrumentation turns to drums and electric guitar.
Alone is a must-have for Weezer fans and a must-hear for everyone else.