Whenever I listen to Weezer, I can’t help but think of that most sadistic of elementary-school activities, dodgeball. And it’s not just because they — leader Rivers Cuomo in particular — look like the least athletic kids in the class. When Weezer re-emerged in 2000 after a long, torturous layoff and found themselves in a world of rap-metal and the like, their clean-cut nerd rock seemed like it would’ve been creamed — just like all the skinny kids who get decimated in dodgeball.
Nineteen-ninety-four was, by and large, a pretty good year for geeky, jittery guitar rock. That Kurt Cobain’s sincerity had, uh, backfired so severely created a collective appetite for goofy, diffident self-deprecation, and Weezer was there when the kids needed it. The band’s self-titled ’94 debut may have ignored all the most basic laws of pop psychology in its delusionally naive lyrical masochism, but the flavor was poppier and friendlier than the creepy, amelodic sludge Cobain’s displaced fans were getting from Mudhoney and company.