Scott & Rivers – Scott & Rivers
by Joey Dussault (Journalism), published May 10th 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Scott & Rivers is the debut album of Allister’s Scott Murphy and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. Released by Universal Music Japan’s Delicious Deli Records, this album is standard power-pop fare with a curious twist – it is sung almost entirely in Japanese. Given Murphy’s success as a solo artist in Japan and Cuomo’s obvious affinity for Japanese culture, the gimmick of this project is hardly surprising. But does it work?
Upon a first listen, one can’t help but wonder if this is really a step up from recent Weezer releases, or if Rivers is just disguising poor lyricism by singing it in another language. Unfortunately, I am nowhere close to fluent in Japanese, and running the lyrics through Google Translate would yield hilarious but inaccurate results (“But so should notice one day/Sun mediocre most important even happy people/To chew on”). So, uncultured American swine (such as myself) will be forced to assess this album on its technical and melodic merit. The verdict?
Scott & Rivers – known in Japan as Sukotto to Ribazu – is decidedly catchy. Its primary single, “Homely Girl,” fuses crunchy guitars with sugary simplicity in a concoction that will please Weezer fans who have grown weary of cringing through the sophomoric ramblings found on Raditude and Hurley. “Asa wa Chikai” demonstrates the duo’s knowledge of Japanese culture and pop music, sounding as if it belongs in the opening sequence of an anime. Murphy and Cuomo do wander awfully far into pop territory – “Owari no Nai Kono Shi” is high school dance material with its all-too-familiar synth patch, and the bouncy “Hodoketeitanda” wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack for 10 Things I Hate About You. The ascending melodies and driving rhythms of “Butterfly” are vaguely evocative of the distinctive style of Weezer’s Blue Album. The song is one of the best the album has to offer, but as it is simply a cover of a popular single by Kimura Kaela, Murphy and Cuomo only get credit for the arrangement.
It is doubtful that this album will make much noise in the states. Universal Music certainly doesn’t seem to think so – outside of Japan, Scott & Rivers is only available on iTunes. Still, if there was ever a time to release this album internationally, now is that time. K-Pop has recently become an unlikely contender in American culture. The fact that Psy had the most-watched video on Youtube, that Girls’ Generation was on the Letterman Show and that Will Smith is tweeting pictures of himself with G-Dragon all prove this. It follows that J-Pop could be just as successful, so perhaps Scott & Rivers can sell a few extra records to Americans who dig the novelty of it. I would be hesitant to affirm that this album is a good representation of Japanese culture, but as a solid pop record, it is worth the listen.
Recommended Tracks: “Homely Girl,” “Butterfly,” “Asa wa Chika”