Raditude Pitchfork Media record review
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||October 28, 2009 (Japan)
October 30, 2009 (Int.)
November 3, 2009 (USA)
Reviewer: Rob Mitchum (Pitchfork Media)
Publishing date: November 4, 2009
Right now, psychiatrists are feverishly debating over what to include in the next revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: the DSM-V, the psych bible. Among the syndromes those experts may decide whether to include in the latest edition is Peter Pan Syndrome, adults who long for youth so powerfully they begin to act like eternal children. Think Michael Jackson, who in naming his ranch Neverland, certainly invited the diagnosis.
But most people with Peter Pan Syndrome regress to pre-pubertal life, an age before the complications of responsibility and sexuality. So what do we call what Rivers Cuomo has? The Weezer frontman seems to be stuck in an eternal puberty, forever 13-- confused, horny, hyperbolic, obsessed with brand names. It's a characteristic that has always been at the heart of Weezer, from "In the Garage" onward. But it's never been more concentrated than on Raditude, which, from its goofy name and cover art to its Mountain Dew-jacked sound and melodramatic lyrics, is designed to hit 13-year-old boys directly on target.
And Cuomo is damned good at getting inside the frightening mind of a teenage boy. "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" is a perfect title for a song about awkward courtship, and the fact that the narrator takes his date to Best Buy (teenage Mecca) before a home viewing of Titanic is pinpoint detail. Echoes of "In the Garage" turn up in, well, "In the Mall", written by drummer Patrick Wilson but sold by Cuomo emphatically chronicling the cruising circuit of elevator-to-escalator-to-elevator. Elsewhere on Raditude, Cuomo whines about going to work, pressures girls into third base, parrots hip-hop slang, escapes into ridiculous fantasy, and on bonus track "Get Me Some" portrays the teenage experience in four words: "Right now/ Everything sucks."
Of course, these journal scrawls are backed largely by power-pop-- what else could it be? Cuomo proved for all time with the first two Weezer records (and fleetingly since) that he's a master of the genre, popping out melodic sing-alongs and fuzz-guitar riffs, and Raditude largely goes back to those basics. "Let It All Hang Out" is a song about celebrating the weekend and forgetting your troubles and sounds like the song you would play to do exactly that. The peppy (if a bit on the creepy side) "I'm Your Daddy", made with Britney and Miley collaborator Dr. Luke, justly turns the table on rock-borrowing pop like "Since U Been Gone". All together, it sounds like the first record ever written with the goal expressly in mind of being kick-ass to play on Rock Band. The departures from that formula are harder to stomach, particularly the Bollywood-drenched Hallmark card "Love Is the Answer", which is absolutely awful.
I still get hate mail for saying Make Believe was so bad that it retroactively ruined the Blue Album and Pinkerton, and I still believe it-- "Beverly Hills" was the sound of a band that had learned to do as little as possible to write a hit. But Raditude doesn't have that stench of minimal calculation on it; if anything, it's as earnest as the famously confessional Pinkerton, just written by someone whose age doesn't match his POV. But the record's teen-boy empowerment message doesn't have much to offer anyone over 13 years old. Perhaps the proper fictional character to reference isn't Peter Pan, but Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson from Dazed and Confused-- we all get older, Rivers Cuomo stays the same age.
— Rob Mitchum, November 4, 2009