Somewhat random (and heavily-hyphenated) reviews by Saintchristopher
When your first album is considered a genre-defining, zeitgeist capturing masterpiece that's influenced countless bands (for better or worse) since its release, it's kind of hard to follow that up.
Since then, Weezer's subsequent releases have been divisive, being hailed as anywhere from "Awful!" to "pretty great," and always, always, always one can detect the same unspoken caveat in between the lines of every review: "(it's still no Blue Album.)"
This is a real shame, because the band hasn't really done anything to deserve such strict scrutiny. They've always written pop-friendly, big-riff tracks that were by and large about hope and love and fun, with a moderate amount of self-deprecating humor thrown in by frontman and lyricist Rivers Cuomo. That's just how Weezer rolls.
So there's your exposition going into Raditude, Weezer's seventh studio album. This sounds more like vintage Weezer than any of their other recent releases, but not in a pandering, "hey, remember when we sounded like this?" kind of way, because honestly, they've always sounded like this; we've just failed to notice.
There is a lot of lyrical play in these songs that seems out of sync for Cuomo, who on their last album wrote a lot of songs dealing with his own entering of middle age. On Raditude, he seems almost nostalgic, channeling scenes of younger days and younger problems. In many ways, this album feels like it was made for those of us who came of age in the late 90's and early 00's. The album's opener, the single "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," paints scenes of a summer romance spent by the lake and watching Titanic, with a chorus on which one physically cannot help but want to turn up the volume.
*I'm going to say this now: "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" is the catchiest single Weezer has ever released, and we are talking about a band who has done almost nothing but release catchy singles for over fifteen years. If, somehow, you haven't heard this song by now, I warn you: you will not listen to it just once; it is the Lays potato chip of pop rock summer anthems.
Weezer's trademark mixture of 50's pop sensibilities with 70's-guitar 'rawk' swagger is certainly present here, especially on tracks like "The Girl Got Hot," complete with perfunctory-but-welcome guy-choir "Oh-Woah-Ohs," or Trippin' Down the Freeway," a smile-inducing you-and-me-are-gonna-make-it gem that's also perfect for blasting in your car.
But it also makes some notable departures, like "I'm Your Daddy," a more dance-pop (and admittedly, kind of creepy) single produced by Dr. Luke, whose influence you may have also heard grace such hits as Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," or everyone's favorite, "Tik Tok" By Ke$ha. And then there's the most anticipated song on the album, "Can't Stop Partying," an "is-it-ironic?" minor-key lament on the tedium of the so-called-glamorous club scene featuring hip-hop star Lil Wayne.
Yes, you read that right: Lil Wayne. An appearance which I am convinced happened solely for the "Weezer meets Weezy" punchline.
But even these awkward departures don't keep Raditude from being a perfectly enjoyable summer rock record. The strangest song is the heavily eastern-influenced "Love is the Answer;" it sounds like something a post-Ravi Shankar George Harrison would have written, and its still just as catchy and endearing as their best songs, including the last verse sung by a female in Hindi.
The album is at its best when sticking to the classic Weezer style: Big riffs, fun lyrics, and the self-aware sense of humor. If you have somewhere to go this summer, and you're driving there, bring Raditude along for the ride.
Edited-in quick post-script: I'm sorry, but if "Raditude" isn't the coolest title you've ever heard, and isn't reason enough for you to pick up this album, there may be no hope for you.
It's Awesome! Listen to it.
of course, commentary is super-welcome. as this is the first of what I hope will be ongoing reviews, I'll be improving the style, but only if that which needs improving is pointed out to me. If not, i'll be forced to assume that it's perfect already and continue making the same mistakes over and over. Thank you!
*also: I totally aped Stranger of Sorts' formatting for this, and i just wanted to acknowledge that fact.*