Most people agree that Weezer were at their best on their first two albums. The Blue Album and Pinkerton have become classics, while their later material has become… whatever the opposite of a classic is. Aside from giving us ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘Island in the Sun’, the Green Album was incredibly cookie-cutter and generic. Maladroit was an alright album that gave us a great video involving the Muppets, but failed to make much of a lasting impression. Make Believe and The Red Album had such depressingly bad singles that I never bothered listening to either album, and subsequently swore off Weezer forever. But there always existed that twinge of hope that Weezer could somehow return to the glory days and finally deliver a worthy follow-up. Every so often something Weezer-related happens that gets my hopes up. Rivers Cuomo has released two surprisingly decent collections of solo recordings. Even that MGMT/Lady Gaga mashup was pretty good. Is Raditude, a term coined by Dwight Schrute himself, the Weezer album we’ve all been waiting for?
Well, not exactly. I thought listening to Raditude would be cathartic, and I could ignore any future output from the band and go on with my life. I wanted to hate this album, I really did. It’s bubblegum pop with ridiculous and sometimes downright stupid lyrics. After a few listens, I’m shocked to realize I actually kind of like it. ‘In the Mall’ is really the only hateworthy song here. Picture ‘In the Garage’ stripped of its outsider charm. Instead of Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde, we have elevators and escalators. Aside from that misstep, the rest of the album is actually pretty catchy and listenable. If songs like ‘I’m Your Daddy’ and ‘The Girl Got Hot’ are a clue, this is Weezer’s party album. Have a few drinks, turn off your brain and you’ll be surprised how enjoyable it is.
‘Can’t Stop Partying’ was cribbed from Rivers’ solo recordings, and that simple demo has been glammed up. Lil’ Wayne has a verse, which seems like a stunt just to get Weezer and Weezy together, but it fits in with the lighthearted tone of the album. Both this and ‘Let it All Hang Out’ out were both co-written with Jermaine Dupri, and offer Rivers a chance to show off his ‘gangsta’ side. It seems pretty out there, until you realize that the opening lyrics to ‘Buddy Holly’ are “What’s with these homies dissin’ my girl, why do they gotta front?” I’m not suggesting these songs are nearly as iconic, just that Weezer’s tone hasn’t changed as much as people think. Album closer ‘I Don’t Want to Let You Go’ is similarly taken from Rivers’ solo material. It was far more effective in demo form. I can’t help thinking about how many modern day Weezer tracks have been ruined through overproduction in the studio.
Weezer will never make another Blue or Pinkerton, that time has long since passed. It now feels unnecessary to get in a huff over the direction the band has taken over the years. The album cover features a photo of a dog caught in mid-air, and a Snuggie is a pre-order bonus. Weezer clearly don’t take themselves seriously, so why should we?