For my initial review of Raditude, click HERE.
By Chris Moore:
RATING: add a star or so
While I’m not convinced that I hit all that far from the mark in my first review of Weezer’s Raditude (2009), subsequent listens have led me to view the sequencing of the songs, if not the songs themselves, in a new light.
If my reviews were based solely on the music, lyrics, and album art, then perhaps I would have made the observations that follow a year ago. And yet, reviews, at least to some degree, take into account the band members, their past work, and various other factors, not least of which is the reviewer’s state of mind at the time of the review.
So, I present the following reading of Raditude to exist beside my previous review, rather than to replace it. In many ways, my first review is the superior one, and yet…
Raditude is one of those rare albums I’ve reviewed that deserves to be revisited.
Allow me to suggest the following reading of the album:
“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” kicks it all off with an innocence and — more importantly to the texture of the album — a passive tone that contrasts significantly with the several tracks that follow. On the opening track, Rivers Cuomo tells the object of his affections to “make a move cuz I ain’t got all night.”
The song concludes with an imagining of a time in this cute relationship when they “have nothing left to say.” As Cuomo sings, “When the conversation stops and we’re facing our defeat, I’ll be standing there, and you’ll be right there next to me. Then I’ll say…” This is followed by the chorus, suggesting that the singer will face adversity in their relationship by awaiting action from his other half.
This hardly seems like the rhetoric of a match made in heaven.
In the subsequent track, “I’m Your Daddy,” the singer retains the typically quirky, Cuomo-esque persona we’ve come to expect. Sure, the singer is approaching a beautiful woman, viewed as a conquest tale, but his idea of “what it is I do” is splitting a cheese fondue over dinner and being prepared to “ape a goombah,” whatever that means exactly.
In other words, this is the sort of storyline we’ve come to expect from Weezer, although the motivation isn’t usually quite so stereotypical and superficial.
“The Girl Got Hot” is a study in leading with your crotch. The divergence here is clear and nearly complete. (I say “nearly” because, after all, Cuomo still needs to get up “the nerve” to approach her, and his pick-up line is the not-so-original “Hey baby, what’s up?”) Still, this song doesn’t entirely alienate itself from Weezer’s previous work. Cuomo’s sensitivity is there — “I knew this girl back in junior high school,” he sings, suggesting he was on at least somewhat familiar terms with her.
And it’s not as though songs like “No One Else” are studies in feminism.
The wheels really come off in “Can’t Stop Partying,” an unapologetic celebration of debauchery. It has been suggested that this is a parody — or at least a statement intended towards — modern pop songs, but Cuomo has always been a writer who wears his heart on his sleeve. This songs lives too much in the moment for it to be read as anything quite so metafictional. Still, the f-word — the first use of it in any of their songs — is censored in the lyrics booklet. Take that as you may.
“Put Me Back Together,” my favorite songs on the album after the opener, is a return to the quirky narrator who describes himself saying, “my clothes they don’t match, and my blue jeans need a patch.” This song could be taken as evidence that the previous tracks should be read in the context of the album as a whole. As Cuomo sings, “It’s cold outside, would you let me come inside, and make it right? Here it’s clear that I’m not getting better. When I fall down you put me back together.”
Quite the contrast from “Can’t Stop Partying” when he sang, “Screw rehab, I love my addiction.”
In the next track, he is not “trippin’ on my own feet” as he was in “Put Me Back Together;” now, he is “Trippin’ Down the Freeway” with the love of his life, overcoming adversity with a “will that won’t fade out” to be together. Here, the singer is still conflicted, declaring “You withheld the physical love I need” but admitting that “‘Girl, I got to be with you.'”
It all evens out in “Love is the Answer,” as he sings, “You’re gonna find your happiness inside.” This track provides such a departure from the aesthetics of “Can’t Stop Partying” that the listener may be left wondering if that track ever existed to begin with.
Weezer revisits the party theme again in “Let it All Hang Out,” a song about the singer escaping from the concerns of a fight with his girlfriend and stressful situations at work. “In the Mall,” another purely fun song, regresses to childhood to continue along the theme of escaping everyday obligations.
“I Don’t Want to Let You Go” concludes a divided album on a decidedly Cuomo-esque note, as he sings of his devotion to a girl as, “I have lost all hope for being normal once again; I will be a slave to you until the bitter end. Even if it’s a hundred years before you change your mind, I will be here waiting girl until the end of time.”
If you decide to read Raditude as an album of contradictions and internal conflict, as I do, then it is clear which side has won out in the end.
It’s the side that makes me excited for their next album, to be released next month, less than a year later.
Like the title, it is unclear whether the album is meant to be taken seriously or not. In many ways, the title is a fitting one, as the album is concerned with the decision to either follow one’s heart or to be cool. Often, it is difficult or even impossible to have both at the same time.
So, is this a Weezer concept album that everyone — including myself — overlooked the first time around? Probably not. It’s probably just me reading too far into an initially disappointing album from one of my favorite bands, attempting to reason out why it is better than I initially believed. All the same, my concern was never with the music: I was solely disappointed by the lyrical content, much in the same way that I have been unable to take the leap from respecting to enjoying Green Day’s American Idiot (2004).
The lyrics haven’t improved in my estimation, but my digestion of them has.
For the sake of all the other disappointed Weezer fans, I had to share.