WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2009|
I've listened to Weezer ever since the "Buddy Holly" video was bonus content on my Dad's Gateway PC, with his copy of Windows 95. No joke, I think "Buddy Holly" is my favorite Weezer song. I must have watched that video like a billion times (I also liked Happy Days and later, the work of Spike Jonze). I guess what I'm saying is my favorite Weezer is "Buddy Holly"-ish Weezer (there are many Weezers these days). In between Make Believe and Weezer (Red Album), Rivers Cuomo made the solo recordings Alone and Alone II, and as a keen Weezer expert and friend of mine pointed out, the jumpy transition from Believe to Red makes a lot more sense after listening. However, "Pork and Beans" was not exactly applauded by the music community, I wondered what Cuomo and the bunch would churn out next. It seems that as anyone would expect, they picked up where they last left off: on their journey into new sounds, keeping the lessons they've learned along the way, and changing things up again.
Raditude tosses out what didn't work on Red, and in some ways returns to a more familiar Weezer sound (for casual fans). First single "If You're Wondering" definitely has the pop qualities I loved back in the day, without being an insistently quirky number. Some songs like "I'm Your Daddy" and "Tripping Down The Freeway" have the more classic Cuomo feel to them, as my expert source (who I will call Dr. Weezer) aptly pointed out; simple, heavy riffs and typical Weezer melodicism. Especially "Let It All Hang Out," really sounds like a classic Weezer tune, although a little less iconic than some of their peak efforts. Overall I enjoy the more defined sound of these songs than the experimental stuff.
And by "experimental," its more of a sprinkle than a completely different flavor. "I Can't Stop Partying" and "Love Is The Answer" each take a Weezer base and apply a quirky filter, but only "I Can't Stop" preserves the catchy, clever Weezer. "Love" is a bit too schmaltzy and gimmicky (even when compared to a song with a Lil' Wayne verse) and really proves that poetic pop rock doesn't mesh with the sounds of Punjabi MC. By far the weakest effort of the record.
Raditude is definitely transitional for the band, but I'm still not sure where Weezer is going. It is good to know they can still pen a sticky sing-song single, but it seems that Rivers Cuomo is becoming more and more preoccupied with longer, more elaborate song structure. Dr. Weezer observed that "I Don't Want To Let You Go" and especially "Run Over By A Truck" are much more involved constructs than the more concise, straightforward tunes of Weezer (Green Album) and before, and it is most likely attributed to the experimentation on Alone and its sequel. The verses, chorus and bridge all seem to melt together with a looser flow, quite unlike the distinct sectioning of simpler tunes. It's confusing at first, but after several listens these Cuomo explorations become interesting and plumbing the depths of their writing is more worthwhile than an initial listen would suggest.
All good bands know they can't have twenty year careers of making the same music. I'm not saying its impossible to make the same record over and over, but rather most artist simply get restless with themselves if they do. Now that Cuomo is post-Alone, we can expect more and more subtle shifts in Weezer's tone. The bumps along the way will hopefully mean progress, and the successes in sound expansion will hopefully keep us interested. If not, they can always resort to Snuggies.-joe puglisi
Special thanks to my friend Traver "Dr. Weezer" Tischio, because when someone knows more than you about your subject, the obvious thing to do is ask them what they think. Sincerely, full disclosure.