RATING: 1 / 5 stars
By Chris Moore:
I was the first to scoff at early negative reviews of the new Weezer album. It seemed there was an inordinate number of swipes at the admittedly odd title, Raditude. After all, I reasoned, Rivers Cuomo hasn’t exactly built his career by being serious.
So, it was with high hopes that I started listening to Raditude. From the opening track — “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” — it became immediately apparent that the lyrics would be juvenile.
And yet this was never a turn-off.
I had heard this song, the first single, about fifteen or twenty times before the album was even released. It had been leaked on YouTube, then removed, then reposted by another source, and finally released officially as the single. And, each time I heard it, I liked it more and more. This is saying a great deal, considering that the song includes references to watching Titanic and eating meat loaf as key plot points.
The way I see it, there are two types of great Weezer songs: introverted, introspective ballads and catchy, fun rock/pop gems.
Any serious Weezer fan who will disparage the quality of Cuomo’s lyrics in 2009 needs to think back to such earlier tracks as “No One Else” — “My girl’s got a big mouth, with which she blabbers a lot…” — and “Getchoo” — “Sometimes I push too hard; sometimes you fall and skin your knee…” And can anyone even begin to transcribe the lyrics to “Hash Pipe”?
I didn’t think so.
So, the credibility and entertainment value of “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” being established, the other nine songs on Raditude should be addressed. In a nutshell, the new album is generally a mixed bag — one part catchy guitar hooks, one part derivative stylistic choices, and two parts juvenile and (to be frank) ridiculous lyrics — that all amounts to a mediocre collection of material.
I’ve always been drawn to Rivers Cuomo’s firm embrace on the simple, pure, and raw emotions that we generally attribute to the innocence (and immaturity) of youth, but this time around, there is little for me to relate to or feel moved by.
“I’m Your Daddy” is about as two dimensional a song as you’ll ever find, stripped of Cuomo’s trademark quirky innocence to reveal an inexperienced Romeo. It is also a bit creepy to listen to after learning that he began writing it while watching his daughter.
“The Girl Got Hot” is driven by catchy, distortion-drenched guitars, but again the lyrics fall short. I kept waiting for a moral to the story — I would have settled for something as simple as “don’t judge a book by its cover” — but all I ended up with was the singer’s revelation that, when it comes to Kiki Dee’s friends, “She got hot, and they did not.” Oh, and the phrase “buyer beware” is potentially problematic, but I won’t even go there.
Then comes the piece de la resistance, “Can’t Stop Partying.” Again, I waited for the subtext that the lyrics must surely contain, considering the minor chords and Cuomo’s diction — “can’t stop” implies addiction. And again, I was met with lines like “If you was me, honey, you would do it too” and “Screw rehab; I love my addiction.” Just when I thought it couldn’t get less redeemable, Lil Wayne lays down a chauvinistic, obscenity laden ode to excess.
The remainder of the album is divided between forgettable, inane tracks — like “In the Mall” — and solid, albeit middle-of-the-road songs — like “Put Me Back Together.” The latter track is one of my favorites from the new album, even though it is difficult to shake the feeling that this would have been a filler track on any earlier Weezer release.
Other tracks like “Let It All Hang Out” and “Love is the Answer” are debatable — on the upside, they do tap into the aforementioned pure, raw emotions that the band’s best material always has, yet there is nothing extraordinary about them.
At the end of the day, I have to reluctantly admit that my opinion is not so divergent from that of Slant reviewer Huw Jones — strictly in his opinion of this album, but NOT his opinion of Weezer’s overall career arc (he’s seriously off there). Weezer has finally released an album that I can’t endorse — and that I, unfortunately, can’t listen to for very long without feeling disappointed.