Raditude Reviewed

Fri 11/6/2009

I got the new Weezer album, Raditude, just after midnight on Monday night and I've been listening to it ever since.

As most of you probably know by now, Weezer is my favorite band, primarily because they created The Blue Album in 1994 and Pinkerton in 1996. For me, these are the two greatest rock albums ever created.

And so, even though I know it is completely unreasonable, each time Weezer creates a new album, there is a part of me that gets its hopes up that they will somehow turn out a set of songs that will return them to their previous glory. But Weezer has been down a long and complicated, twisting road these past fifteen years, and they have changed. WE ALL HAVE. That's what life is all about. Things change and you learn from your experiences and always try to do your best. Right?

I think we can all agree that Pinkerton is a brilliant album. It is truly a work of genius, but it is also a raw album full of pain and frustration. If you love this album like I love this album, it's probably because you can relate to some of the feelings expressed in its 35 minutes. Rivers wrote most of Pinkerton, when he was 24 years old. Now, maybe I'm just PROJECTING here, but that can be a really miserable, confusing age. Back then Rivers was EXTREMELY shy and seemed to be really unhappy. Half the time in interviews he wouldn't even speak, and the rest of the band would have to speak for him. If he DID speak, Rivers couldn't make eye contact with anyone, and you could see him beating himself up inside after every comment. When Weezer would play live, Rivers would just stand there and sing the songs.

Now, 15 years later, Rivers is almost 40, he's married, and he has a kid. In interviews he is talkative, intelligent and humorous. When he plays on stage these days, he jumps around and SMILES and seems to be having the time of his life. So WHY ON EARTH would he be creating the same kind of tortured music that he was in his 20s? HE WOULDN'T! So to everyone who would complain that Raditude is not enough like Pinkerton, I would say, "Let it go!" or better yet, "LIVE IN THE NOW!" Still, it is hard to let go of the past...

Raditude is an upbeat album full of pop music. I listen to upbeat pop music by other bands and enjoy it quite a bit. If this album had been released by The Strokes or some other band that I listen to, but don't CARE about, I would probably think this album totally ruled. There are some pretty rocking tunes on here. But somehow, because it's WEEZER, it feels like the whole thing falls short. And not because I'm comparing them to themselves 15 years ago, but because it just kind of feels thrown together.

Only two of the ten tracks were written completely by Rivers. It is far and away their most collaborative album ever. Rivers wrote the other songs with rappers, indian musicians, other rock musicians and producers (and the other guys in Weezer, obviously). This is a far departure from their first five albums, where Rivers wrote every single song (with a few rare exceptions). At least this time, even when another band member wrote a song, Rivers is singing the lead, and thus, there are no tracks that really stand out as completely not belonging on the album (like there were on The Red Album).

I can listen to this album start to finish without wincing. And if I turn it up loud enough, it even kind of feels like rocking out to Weezer in a few places. But there is nothing brilliant on here. With The Red Album it at least felt like Weezer was trying to push the envelope a bit. They were experimenting with different song structures, and I think "Greatest Man" is definitely one of the most complex, challenging songs Rivers has ever written.

This album came out just over a year after The Red Album, which seems extremely fast, considering Weezer has been known to take as many as 5 years between albums in the past. In one recent interview, Pat (the drummer) said this album came together so quickly because of all the new collaborators, but I can't also help noticing that two of the tracks are finished versions of the (supposedly abandoned?) demos from Rivers's Alone project. Perhaps EVERY Weezer album features old songs that have been dug up again and re-recorded, but it seems like a weird choice, ESPECIALLY the bonus track "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World" which is a song from TEN YEARS ago. (?!)

A week or so before Raditude was released I was talking to someone (Claire? LIZ BAILLIE!) about the speed of this new release, and she suggested that perhaps Weezer was trying to finish off their contract. I did a bit of poking around the internet and it DOES look like Weezer signed a 7-album contract with Geffen back in the day, so this album would finish off their contractual obligations.

If you listen to the album with this information in mind, it not only explains the lack of complexity, and all the collaborations, but it really sharpens the impact of the lyrics in the bonus track "Get Me Some" which seems to be ALL ABOUT being frustrated with the recording industry, and dealing with all the B.S. of promoting albums for some big company.

So in conclusion, I guess I would just say that it doesn't seem like Weezer gave it their all this time. But hell, Weezer's 85% effort still sounds better to me than most band's 110%. It's still Rivers singing, there are even some pretty sick guitar solos. And who knows WHAT it means, if this is their last album under contract. Maybe they'll just sign another contract? OR, maybe they'll go back and finally self-produce Songs From the Black Hole... A fan can dream!

2 comments on this entry

perhaps Weezer was trying to finish off their contract

I said that! Usually when a band comes out with a ton of records really close together that's what they're trying to do. Especially if they come out with a "live" album (which I'm surprised Weezer didn't do if this is the case).

Liz B. Nov07

i can see them doing what Radiohead has done and sell their stuff directly to their fans instead of through a record company. i'm anxious to hear this album, especially after i heard about the hip hop collabs.

cat Nov07

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