Ask any Weezer fan what his or her favourite album from the band is and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the answer will be one of their records from 2002 and before.
This is simply because, for three consecutive records now (2005's Make Believe, 2008's The Red Album and this very slice of embarrassment here), Weezer have failed to deliver anything as coherent or as memorable as their first four albums.
All hope had already been beaten to a bloody pulp with last year's The Red Album, an unabashed thrust into the world of teen-pop and a middle-finger send-off to their speechless fans. It was attempting to look 'young' about ten years too late. Raditude, their latest mess, goes even further down the creepy Peter Pan rabbit-hole that frontman Rivers Cuomo has decided to explore and could truly be mistaken for the musings of a thirteen year-old boy's diary.
The first single to be lifted from the record was introductory album track If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To) and it's here that the listener is forced to make an important decision; do you force yourself to suffer the next thirty-something minutes (fifty-something if you're unfortunate enough to own the deluxe edition) of witnessing a once admirable band completely destroy their entire career or do you turn the CD off now and move on with your life. Put it this way, it's lucky you have the choice; this is our job.
The song is basically a simple, happy, clappy theme-tune to the current American teen generation with a catchy guitar-riff, an exploding chorus and sing-along lyrics, all of which make little sense but just about make up the story of the budding relationship between and a boy and girl. "You told me stories about your chickadees, they didn't like BB Guns or stupid Archery" and "We watched Titanic and it didn't make us sad, I took you to Best Buy, you took me home to meet your mum and dad. Your mum cooked meatloaf even though I don't eat meat. I dug you so much, I took some for the team." Sure it's mildly funny but please bare in mind, this coming from a thirty-nine year old Harvard graduate with a wife and a young child.
Whilst we try and repress our instinct to hurl insulting expletives and threats toward the band, we're actually going to go ahead and flip this entire review on it's head for a moment by praising the band, even if it is just for one thing and one thing only. They quite obviously wanted to make the transition from an edgy rock group to a hugely popular and profitable American teeny-bopper band and every single song on Raditude reinforces how successful they have been in doing so. There's hardly a shred of the rougher, more depressed Weezer of yonder and it's been replaced with some of the shiniest, silliest pop this decade has seen. Of course, that doesn't mean for one second that we have to be there to witness it.
One of the main songs to gain attention from the new record (as if the artwork and title didn't already create enough buzz) is track four, Can't Stop Partying. Originally a sarcastic, venomous and melancholic look at the Hollywood/Celebrity lifestyle, the song was part of the Alone II: Home Recordings Of Rivers Cuomo CD released back in 2008. On Raditude however, it's grotesquely morphed into a ridiculous and exaggerated dance-floor anthem that shows Cuomo revelling in the lyrical stupidity instead of spitting them with a twisted humour. When he states "I've got the real big posse with me, yeah I'm deep. And if you're looking for me I'm in VIP" we didn't think he was actually being serious. It seems so odd as to how the same song can sound so different yet contain the same lyrics but I guess adding Lil Wayne to the new version just about erases any hope of keeping the originals meaning.
The longer the CD plays, the more the frustration grows and it's in the fleeting moments of promise that actually vex the most. Tripping Down The Freeway almost sounds like it'll conjure a brief wave of nostalgia but never really gets there, choosing youthful boisterousness instead of true angst and In The Mall does the same thing but is ruined by the insistently ridiculous lyricism. "Take the elevator, to the escalator!" shouts Cuomo over a tinny racket behind. It'd be a highlight if there was actually something meaty enough to bite into and feel fulfilled from but all we're left with are the scraps of a mildly rousing guitar-riff and more fodder for the Twi-Hards of the world to cling tightly to.
Asking questions such as 'why?' or 'how?' or 'hey, is that the new Jonas Brothers CD?' is all very well but in the end, our questions and frustrations are worthless at this point as Weezer are officially dead and gone. The band we once knew are no longer with us and whilst all of the anger and hateful words in the world may ease the pain of being stabbed in the back by your childhood heroes, it won't bring back the music that now seems destined to stay buried in the past. R.I.P.