Raditude New York Times record review
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||October 28, 2009 (Japan)
October 30, 2009 (Int.)
November 3, 2009 (USA)
|Individual song reviews|
Reviewer: Ben Ratliff (The New York Times)
Publishing date: November 1, 2009
|No rating given|
It’s always possible that Rivers Cuomo is joking, but the fine print on Weezer’s new album can be taken only one way. It states that he wrote one of Weezer’s songs "Put Me Back Together" with Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler of the All-American Rejects.
“Put Me Back Together” is confident and basically unironic: reliable-narrator power pop with a bit of yearning, like what the Rejects do on their own time. It’s not a parody of a style; it is the style, top to bottom.
This, even more than the appearance of the rapper Lil Wayne on the preceding track, or the album’s collaborations with high-gloss pop songwriter-producers Kazuhiro Hara, Jermaine Dupri and Dr. Luke shows that Mr. Cuomo has relaxed his anxious, isolated quest for the perfect rock song. He’s not only rubbing against musicmakers of other stripes who might not threaten him, and doing so for comic or shock effect. But in the case of Mr. Ritter and Mr. Wheeler, he has also sought the help of those who directly inherited his audience 10 years after he started.
Weezer, with its sulky pathos, major-key metal riffs and at least one fully brilliant hook per album, has had an ambivalent relationship with mainstream pop. But here Mr. Cuomo, its singer and main songwriter, is right up against it; he’s not so invested in protecting his artist’s distance. If Weezer made films and it were the 1970s, this might be a death-of-the-auteur review.
It wouldn’t be right. Way back in 2001, with the Green Album the tenor of Mr. Cuomo’s songs was already changing. They weren’t so coded to be authentically, messily emotional. They could still be weird or nasty, but took other guises: he started playing with different poses, writing outside himself.
Even weird and nasty is mostly gone from Raditude. Instead, Mr. Cuomo is working with hoary old rock-song themes: dance-floor lust ("The Girl Got Hot," "I’m Your Daddy"); workin’ for the weekend ("Let It All Hang Out"); spiritual serenity ("Love Is the Answer," with sitar, two-step Euro-pop rhythm and Indian singers); and, most jarring, a completely nonrock sentimentality and beauty, in the soft-pop/Tin Pan Alley chord changes that define "The Underdogs," written with Mr. Hara.
But Mr. Cuomo is still usually keeping something for himself, and the album’s pleasures are figuring out exactly what that thing is. The track with Lil Wayne, for example, "I Can’t Stop Partying," [sic] is a clunker with subtle humor: a high-roller’s club chant that amounts to an unconscious cry for help. "I’m Your Daddy," the record’s best riff-monster, makes efficient business sense as a cross of Weezer guitar-crunch with new electro-pop. But it also bears traces of trademark Weezer-think: the earnest promise of a cheese fondue, the sickeningly corny line, "I just want to feel your fire." Mr. Cuomo has almost gone naïve, but not quite. Raditude sounds like a high-stakes game of chicken, and the intellectual gamesmanship becomes more satisfying than the music.
— Ben Ratliff, November 1, 2009