Scott and Rivers is the collaboration between Scott Murphy, of Chicago pop-punkers Allister, and Rivers Cuomo, of the iconic Weezer. For no better reason than they can, the duo recorded a full-length LP sung almost entirely in Japanese. Over the course of their debut self-titled’s 12 tracks, the duo prove that truly boss power-pop transcends any language barrier.
While some folks might be turned off by the whole “I don’t speak Japanese” aspect, the pair transcend such frivolous notions with their varied musical chops. Amid an album of bombast, the proggy piano drone and massive harmonies make “Break Free” an arena-rock anthem. “Even Far Away” busts out a cheesy synth line, which helps make their rocking a little more delicate and introspective. And the handclap drums and muted guitar of “Burst” are like a Hall and Oates ballad, which suits Scott and Rivers just splendidly.
It’s their expressive vocals throughout that keep this from being more of a gimmick. On “Two People and You”, Cuomo’s voice reaches brand-new levels of nerdy romanticism, sounding as fresh and endearing as he has in years. And speaking of nostalgia, “Homely Girl” is ripe with youthful exuberance, and could have been a Blue Album outtake. But the real joy is the pair’s overall interplay, so perfectly matched yet individually nuanced.
The whole language issue is a blessing, as it leaves space for listeners to come to their own emotional conclusions. Whether it’s finding reasoning for why Cuomo is extra lonesome on “Close The Morning”, or ignoring the words of “Freakin’ Love My Life’” and just getting down to that chirpy synth. Cheese aside, this record is best heard with your heart and not with your head.
Essential Tracks: “Break Free”, “Homely Girl”