Music review: Weezer, Raditude

Posted: November 5, 2009 in Album Reviews

weezer

There’s no denying the talent of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. His gift for melody is seemingly effortless. Cuomo has always been able to craft short pop ditties with huge rock hooks, mixed with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and clever lyrics. The first three Weezer albums (particularly the first two, the eponymous Blue Album and Pinkerton) were fantastic. The fourth, Maladroit, was pretty solid, while the last two, Make Believe and the Red Album were hit-and-miss affairs.
Which brings us to the band’s latest effort, Raditude, a pretty ridiculous title which also houses a few ridiculous but ultimately catchy tunes. A quick look at the song titles lets you know you’re not in for lyrical greatness, including leadoff single, the cheesy but infectious “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”. The band certainly isn’t taking itself seriously here, or on tracks like “I’m Your Daddy,” “The Girl Got Hot” and one of the worst tracks the band has ever recorded, “Can’t Stop Partying”, an ode to clubbing featuring a mediocre rap from Lil’ Wayne, which happens to be the best part of the song. Maybe Cuomo is playing a little joke on his fans with songs like these. Maybe he’s pandering to pop radio for a Top 40 hit, or maybe he’s running out of fresh ideas. Don’t think that’s the case, since the other far-out experiment on the album, the Indian-tinged “Love Is the Answer,” complete with lovely singing from Indian singer Amrita Sen, fares much better. But the best songs here are the ones where we get a glimpse of the old Weezer, especially the melancholy “Put Me Back Together” and album closer “I Don’t Want to Let You Go.” Here, and on the aforementioned “Love is the Answer,” you actually hear human emotions coming through in the performances, which is a welcome change from some of the juvenile sentiments spouted elsewhere. I mean, do we really need to hear guys approaching their 40s singing about hanging out “In the Mall?”.
It sounds like I’m ripping the album here, but the truth is, I enjoyed it. There are hooks everywhere, even on some of the slighter material and the second half of the record, beginning with “Put Me Back Together” comes pretty close to classic Weezer. All told, it’s the best album the band has made since Maladroit. But as time goes on, it seems evident we’ll never get another Pinkerton….

The Sod rating: *** 1/2
“Raditude” track listing: 1. (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To; 2. I’m Your Daddy; 3. The Girl Got Hot; 4. Can’t Stop Partying; 5. Put Me Back Together; 6. Trippin’ Down the Freeway; 7. Love is the Answer; 8. Let It All Hang Out; 9. In the Mall; 10. I Don’t Want to Let You Go.

Another small criticism and note: There’s a deluxe version of Raditude available, selling for $13.99. It’s got four extra songs, a few of which are said to be quite good. I paid for the regular version of the album, on sale for $9.99 at Best Buy. My gripe is, the album, like all Weezer albums, is done in a flash, slightly over 30 minutes in length. They easily could have squeezed four more songs onto the album. The live Nirvana album I reviewed earlier this week ran nearly 80 minutes and 24 songs long, selling for the same $9.99 I bought Raditude for. Seems like a money grab to me.

Other Weezer albums
Weezer (The Blue Album) *****
Pinkerton *****
Weezer (The Green Album) ****
Maladroit *** 1/2
Make Believe **
Weezer (The Red Album) ***

Ratings scale
***** Hall of Fame album
**** Perennial All-Star
*** Solid starter
** Benchwarmer
* Beer League softball player

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