If there was ever an album that I’m predisposed to like, it would be Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo.
The second in a series (of hopefully many) of albums of [Weezer lead singer’s] Rivers Cuomo’s home solo demos gives listeners a chance to hear some of the songs that weren’t big radio hits (or necessarily tunes that made a Weezer album), but are instead some of Rivers’ favorite compositions.
This album is the Empire Strikes Back to Alone I’s A New Hope. While Alone I was good and gave the fans a taste of songs they’d been waiting to hear, Alone II is deeper and more emotionally satisfying. Alone II actually flows as a comprehensive album. The only drawback to the album-not everything is epic or even great (similar to Alone I). There are two song snippets that don’t stand up on their own. And the three tracks representing Songs From The Black Hole are more exposition for the overall SFTBH story than songs that stand up on their own (with the possible exception of Come to My Pod).
Other than those five tracks, the rest of the album consists of songs that could have made any Weezer album, and a few that could be big radio hits. They’re enjoyable songs with no embarassing boy band-style attempts at music like Alone I’s This Is the Way. Some of the songs, like The Purification of Water, My Brain is Working Overtime and The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World have already been circulated in a live or inferior quality version amongst fans. In those cases, it’s great to have those songs in an official version.
As a fan bordering on the obsessive, for me, the gem of the album is actually its liner notes. I described last year’s liner notes as “detailed,” but Alone II’s liners put those to shame. The booklet is a 28-page chronological journey through Rivers’ songwriting life. He’s brutally honest with the places he was in during his lows, as well as how analytical he could be with his obsessive of writing the perfect song. However, it sounds like he has regained his confidence and is in a better place. Either way, I’m looking forward to any other writing projects he may have in his future.
As well as the musical ones.