Posted on November 10th, 2009 (3:50 pm) by Alex Morgan

Ah, Rivers Cuomo. How you continue to befuddle and enrage fans nationwide with each new Weezer album. In May of 1994 you gave us an eponymous debut, Weezer, known almost universally as the Blue Album. It was an amalgam of power pop and Pixie guitar throwbacks, as a result of which many music aficionados blasted it, still reasonably upset and jaded by the death of their beloved Kurt Cobain who had passed just a month before. The rest of the music world, however, accepted it, and many of the album's singles climbed the charts. The album steadily gained acceptance in the rock world, and over the years the album has repeatedly been named by many publications as one of the greatest albums of the 90s.

Then, in 1995, Rivers had the idea to refuse any album production at all for a more dark and abrasive sound. With a so-called "space-opera" theme, the album, dubbed Songs from the Black Hole, was tentatively set for a 1996 release. Unfortunately for many now disconcerted Weezer fans, a good portion of the songs from these sessions have yet to be seen in proper form (including the vast majority of material written by Rivers Cuomo, but that's another story entirely). From the ashes of that session rose what we now call Pinkerton, along with the addition of some finished tracks that had been penned before the Blue Album days. Upon Pinkerton's release, the majority of Weezer fans not only disliked the new album but abhorred it. The press decried it as juvenile, one critic going so far as to label the lyrics "aimless." Several reader polls even named it the worst album of 1996.

Then, something miraculous happened. Four years later, the internet was steadily booming. Word of mouth began to spread about Pinkerton, so much so that the band members themselves noticed. Without warning, Weezer found themselves performing at venues that were steadily increasing in size. The band was astonished by the extremely positive responses from fans and suddenly they found themselves making a new album, another self-titled, which we know today as the Green Album, and which would set the pace for the rest of the band's work to date. No more would Rivers Cuomo pen lyrics about lesbians, distraught workers and their bulldozers, or lost Asian loves across the sea. In the coming years, Maladroit was released to fairly decent critical acclaim but very low sales. A scant few years later, Make Believe was released to a lukewarm reception at best by critics and bombarded by fans to this day (it's easily recognized as the band's weakest effort). In 2008, the Red Album was released. Many a fan expected it to be a return to form when the album’s first single, "Pork and Beans," hit the charts. Unfortunately, the rest of the album left much to be desired in this regard.

And that brings us to 2009's Raditude. From the name of the album to the joyfully jumping pooch on the album's cover, it seems like Rivers Cuomo is spitting directly in the face of his nearly entirely agitated fanbase. But it's true - in a way, he is. He's expressed time and time again that he thought Pinkerton was a disaster, a drunken mistake, regretted the morning after. But surely the fans realize that, at nearly 40 years old, Rivers must be maturing a bit and should not keep churning out apparent rubbish like "Can't Stop Partying," featuring Lil Wayne... right? If any of you read the interview Rivers did with Pitchfork back in early October, you'd have noted his claim that his most recent influences include Miley Cyrus, Tim McGraw, and Katy Perry. It's obvious that pop music has taken a hold of his life and that's really all there is to it. Does Rivers Cuomo really care about his fans? In some ways, perhaps, but for the most part he's not unlike most of his fellows in the music world. He's just more upfront about it. This is, after all, the same man who stated in an interview with Guitar World that his fans are "all little bitches, so I avoid them at all costs."

If you're a fan of pop-rock (more rock than pop) music, Raditude isn't a bad album by any measure; in fact, it's easily the catchiest album I've heard this year since fun.'s Aim and Ignite. Perhaps it doesn't have the tropical pop vibes of the Green Album, or the 90s alt-rock throwbacks of the Blue Album, but who cares? If you want to listen to those albums, listen to those albums. Whining about it on message boards probably only worsens the matter by making Rivers too resentful to beg Geffen to release his older work. But, I digress.

The beginning track on Raditude, “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”, brings the best of the Red Album back to us: catchy drum beats and pounding guitar with constant shouts of "Go!" The next tracks are clearly tongue in cheek (but unbearably catchy), with the lyrics on "I'm Your Daddy" speaking of casual sex, and “The Girl Got Hot” telling a strange tale of dancefloor horniness. Up until "Put Me Back Together" the songs are all about partying and just getting down. Through the heart-felt "Put Me Back Together" to yet another such song, "I Don't Want to Let You Go," the album reflects what sounds like Make Believe era Weezer, although this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The strange Indian vocal twists in "Love Is the Answer," recently lent lyrically to Sugar Ray's latest album, are decent in themselves: Amrita Sen's vocals are quite lovely. If you happen to own an international edition with the two bonus tracks, "Turn Me Round" and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning", you'll find sonic similarities to Pinkerton. Musically, the tracks are extremely similar, and it should come as little surprise: "Turn Me Round" was written years ago, and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning,” a cover of a Partridge Family song, would not have surprised me in the slightest had it been written by Rivers himself.

With Raditude, it's safe to say Rivers Cuomo care's about little outside of his music, and things were never really different in the past. He might have sung "Don't Let Go" on the Green Album, but it is in fact now time to do exactly that. Weezer might not be doing anything new these days or revolutionizing the way we hear music, but the band knows how to spit out a good tune here and there, and if we can forget about what the band once was, perhaps we can learn to accept it as it now is. There will be many more Blue Albums and Pinkertons as time goes by, and when that happens we should happily gobble them up to satisfy our musical palate. But in the mean time, let's enjoy some damn good pop music.

Track List:
1. (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To (3:28)
2. I'm Your Daddy (3:09)
3. The Girl Got Hot (3:15)
4. Can't Stop Partying (4:22)
5. Put Me Back Together (3:15)
6. Tripping Down The Freeway (3:41)
7. Love Is The Answer (3:43)
8. Let It All Hang Out (3:18)
9. In The Mall (2:39)
10. I Don't Want To Let You Go (3:48)
11. Turn Me Round (3:09)

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