After listening to Raditude, I am convinced Rivers Cuomo is the cop (the FBI agent, the NSA spy, etc.) so deep undercover he can no longer tell the difference between the person he is and the person he is pretending to be. The line between perception and reality is distorted, and the point at which it was crossed is a distant memory.
Even though Make Believe was an exercise in banality and The Red Album was a weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird album with horrible results, we still got occasional lyrical assurances that Rivers was the same singer who bared his geeky soul on The Blue Album and Pinkerton. On Raditude the music is more power pop than ever, with lyrics that cater to 15 year olds– the “cool” ones who wouldn’t know a 12-sided die if it hit them in the face.
It is here where we find our horn-rimmed hero and the rest of Weezer, the same guys who banged out geek rock anthems about crushing on unattainable girls and spending hours of solitude in the garage, singing about letting it all hang out “with my homies,” picking up girls on the dance floor and the inability to stop partying at the club.
Surely these songs—“Can’t Stop Partying,” “I’m Your Daddy” and “Let it All Hang Out,” respectively –are meant to be tongue in cheek; all, perhaps, taking shots at the woefully formulaic state of Top 40 radio. But the art throughout the album so imitates real life that it becomes hard to distinguish where parody starts and stops.
It appears Rivers is so narcissistic he thinks he can continually add layers of cheesy pop (the overall dumbing down of the music over several albums coupled with recent collaborations with Adam Lambert and a forthcoming one with Katy Perry), pop culture kitsch (the Weezer Snuggie, collaborating with Kenny G) and lower the maturity level of his lyrics until he’s done humoring himself.
Tellingly, in a recent interview with NPR, Cuomo said the following when asked about the level of irony in having a blanket with sleeves with his band’s name across the front: “I have no idea what irony means anymore– half serious, half joking, I don’t know. It definitely feels funny to me.” A Freudian slip perhaps? Unfortunately for Rivers, the joke stopped being funny two albums ago (if it was ever all that funny to begin with).
But what’s even more disturbing for Weezer fans is that the songs that seem to have actual effort and focus behind them are nothing but teen power pop at its most bland. “Put Me Back Together,” a song co-written with two members of the All-American Rejects, sounds… just like a bad song from the All-American Rejects, a soaring chorus and little else.
When they try to add other genres to the mix, like rapping about clubbing in the VIP section on “Can’t Stop Partying,” or throwing in an Indian singer and a sitar, as they did on “Love is the Answer.” perhaps the most forced inclusion of world music of all time results in something even more catastrophic.
Weezer was never known for having difficult arrangements, but even these ten tracks by comparison are considerably more unimaginative and lackluster than their fairly simplistic forbearers. And the tempo changes that made songs like “My Name is Jonas” and “El Scorcho” soar are all but absent.
Some of the hardcores from the early days have long ago declared this band as a decaying shell of its former self. Regardless of where you stand on post-comeback Weezer, the fact Raditude exists must feel like a slow twist of the knife in the small part of the heart that still had love for what once was.
Release date: Nov 3 2009
- (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
- I’m Your Daddy
- The Girl Got Hot
- Can’t Stop Partying (featuring Lil’ Wayne)
- Put Me Back Together
- Trippin’ Down The Freeway
- Love Is The Answer
- Let It All Hang Out
- In The Mall
- I Don’t Want To Let You Go
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