Scott & Rivers features Japanese singer/songwriter Miwa, but sounds nothing like “Undone (The Sweater Song).”
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13 Apr 2017 - 12:09 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2017 - 12:09 PM

Casual Weezer fans, a word of caution — Scott & Rivers, a collaborative project bringing Scott Murphy, of the band Allister, and Rivers Cuomo, of Weezer, together does not sound anything like either band. Hardcore Weezer supporters probably already know this and are still all in, but for those who can’t recite deep trivia about the band and go into this special unit’s song with Japanese singer/songwriter Miwa expecting something resembling The Blue Album (or, like, Hurley), well pump those brakes now.

Scott & Rivers songs are entirely in Japanese, and this is basically the duo’s J-Pop project. J-Pop works perfectly well as a category, quite a literal one at that — it refers to artists who are making pop within the Japanese music industry, which this special unit fits. But as far as a sonic definition goes, J-Pop can’t be boiled down to a single style. Artists dabble in rock, ballads, hip-hop, reggae and much more. It’s as diverse as any other nation’s pop music market.

So while Scott & Rivers is definitely J-Pop, it mostly sounds like two guys with a heavy interest in Japanese culture writing slow-burning numbers and covering some of their favorite cuts in a language they’ve clearly studied up on. “Kawaranu Omoi” is a solid example of their original work in this set-up, a mid-tempo ballad featuring electric guitar, piano and just a touch of strings. It starts slow and builds up to a big, dramatic release begging for an appearance in a TV drama.

It’s a pretty straight-ahead Japanese ballad, and your opinion of “Kawaranu Omoi” will be shaped by whether you find these sort of songs stirring or exhausting. Because it is such a by-the-numbers ballad, that’s the only way to view it beyond the obvious curiosity factor. It’s well-crafted, but maybe not your style, especially if “Buddy Holly” serves as your ringtone.

Though fans and detractors alike should check out Miwa, the featured guest here who mostly provides backing vocals (and there is an alternate version featuring her on lead, with the dudes backing her up). She’s solid; she’s been one of the nation’s more consistently mid-tempo pop types for the last few years, offering up driving and catchy rock numbers alongside electro-tinged cuts and the occasional ballad on her own. Whether you came for Cuomo, the novelty or something else, hunting down her songs is worth some time.

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