When Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo sang lovingly about rock bozos Kiss, we forgave him as his band created two of the best albums of the decade. A fair exchange. So it's with great regret that we pass on news that the Californians now make Gene Simmons and co seem like Baudelaire.
Well, not quite, but since the five-year gap between their second and third records, Weezer have become both prolific and a near-parody of themselves. While 2002's Maladroit breathed life into the notion that Cuomo could re-establish himself as one of the great rock songwriters of his generation, it was followed by the dreadful pop-punk of Make Believe and last year's garbled ‘red album’, their third self-titled LP. This is a band in decline and, as if to prove it, they've made Raditude.
Recorded with a mix of other songwriters including Jermaine Dupri, Jacknife Lee and the All-American Rejects' Nick Wheeler, this is a strange album indeed. Let us not forget that Rivers is smart guy, a Harvard graduate no less, so hearing him sing for half an hour and in clunky terms abut the myriad joys of "partying all night" like a 17-year-old is fairly perturbing. The Girl Got Hot, the tale of a classmate from high school who, duh, "got hot", is the worst example of this douchebaggery. This is a band better than appealing to the basest of FM radio power-pop desires, surely.
There are a few good moments – particularly the single and first track (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, which borrows A Town Called Malice’s bassline to tell the story of an anxious teenage love, and Love Is The Answer, a rock/classical-Indian fusion which features sometime Jai Ho singer Amrita Sen and was written for Make Believe before being recorded by Sugar Ray and resurrected here. Lil Wayne crops up to for a guest rap too, on the self-explanatory Can't Stop Partying. But these detours aren't enough to rescue proceedings.
It's the songs reused from Cuomo's Alone II demo compilations that are by far the best things here, and it's the sensitivity in these tracks that made early Weezer so great and, mainly, what’s missing elsewhere on Raditude. It’s an album seemingly designed to garner royalties from future films in the American Pie franchise; the sound, almost literally one assumes, of a band in a midlife crisis. --Will Dean
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