- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It’s hard not to look at the title — “Raditude” — and cover of Weezer’s newest record, which features a goofy-looking shot of a leaping dog frozen in midair, and wonder if perhaps it isn’t some sort of bad joke. Nor do the record’s 10 songs (and four bonus tracks, if you buy the “Deluxe Edition”) do anything to change that impression. Unfortunately, this is one record you can judge by its cover.

Packed with prefab pop filler and utterly devoid of personality, “Raditude,” the pop-rock quartet’s seventh studio album, finds the band lazily indulging its penchant for frat-boy antics and smug genre-sampling — a result even more disappointing coming from a band that once showed such promise.

Any time pop-rock mainstay Weezer releases a new album, it’s tempting to look back at the original reasons for the band’s presence on the national music scene — the band’s self-titled 1994 debut and its 1996 follow-up, “Pinkerton.”

The band’s first two brilliant, buoyant pop albums influenced a generation of pop-minded indie rockers. With those two records, the band helped create the modern indie aesthetic, equal parts ironically distant and emotionally raw, and set the stage for the rise of emo into the mainstream.

Since then, however, the band has worked in a less personal mode. And while none of the band’s follow-ups have been as memorable or influential as its first two records, it has consistently churned out carefree but perfectly serviceable power-pop.

But even by the diminished standards of Weezer’s recent output, “Raditude” is a thoroughly lackluster, frequently cringe-worthy effort.

If the title and cover didn’t spell it out, the track titles would give it away: “I’m Your Daddy” and “The Girl Got Hot” are both generically radio-friendly pop — painfully dumb songs that recall painfully dumb bands like Smash Mouth and Bowling for Soup.

“Can’t Stop Partying,” the record’s worst offender, blends the band’s overproduced pop sound with a hip-hop backbeat that sounds like it was pulled from a drum machine preset.

Even at its best, “Raditude” offers nothing better than forgettable singles — tracks like “Let it All Hang Out” and “Tripping Down the Freeway” — that could’ve come from practically any faceless major-label rock act of the last five years.

Indeed, the record is so uniformly lacking that it’s easy to wonder whether perhaps there isn’t some subtext at work: Is “Raditude” a cry for help? An ironic experiment, or a satire of by-the-numbers studio rock? Or is frontman Rivers Cuomo just messing with the band’s fans — tossing off a shallow album on a lark to see what the reaction will be?

It’s tough to tell. But whether or not Mr. Cuomo is joking, it’s not funny — and certainly not worth listening to.

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