With Raditude, Weezer has taken yet another sidestep from its classic angsty geek rock fare. Across the record, frontman Rivers Cuomo takes initiative and leaves behind the pop-sensitive, cajoling music that marked Weezer’s past couple albums, replacing it with pleasantly hilarious lamentations and parodies of teenage naïveté. This direction may seem both misguided and painfully simple, but Weezer manages to succeed brilliantly with a handful of whimsical and memorable tracks.
With a hint of farce, Raditude self-consciously begs listeners to question both its validity and sincerity. Ultimately, the album proves to be both earnest and sympathetic as it parodies adolescent immaturity through a lens of genuine teenage nostalgia. It’s Raditude’s delicate balance between spoof and authenticity that cements its greatness. The transition from the collegiate tail-chasing, Patron-drinking lifestyle to one of middle-aged maturity is obviously an evolution Cuomo and crew have taken with a grain of salt.
Though Raditude appears light-hearted on the surface (its bizzare cover features a dog in mid-leap through a stereotypical American living room) the album is much more reflective and somber than it superficially seems. Tracks like “Run Over By A Truck,” a fast-paced condolence equipped with heavy distortion and one of the album’s most poetically rhythmic choruses, express the desperation of Cuomo’s growing pains. Similarly, the song “Put Me Back Together” acts as a melancholy reflection of what Cuomo fears he has become: another 30-something whose good times have drifted downstream.
Elsewhere, Raditude seemingly drifts away from this earnestness. Many of the tracks are chalk-full of feel-good beats and ditzy mirth. With simplicity and sarcasm, these tracks will find their ways into listeners’ hearts.
Raditude demands that adolescence be celebrated because, after all, it is fleeting. The dizzy electro-pop on “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and “I’m Your Daddy” are shining examples of the genuine yet jocular nature of Raditude. Perhaps the most obvious moment of duality is the Lil Wayne collaboration “Can’t Stop Partying.” While appearing superficially to be just another head-bopping grind with its shallow money-and-hos lyrics and strange dance beat, the theme running behind the song is one of sobriety and complaint.
Weezer contrives a painstakingly complex parody of the way many teenagers live while maintaining a surprising sincerity. No longer are these men in the position to be taken care of while hedonistically living life to the fullest, with a safety net below to catch them if they fall. Suddenly, the men of Weezer seem to realize they have to grow up. Raditude manages to neatly compile all the mixed emotions that accompany the transition into adulthood. And, as Cuomo describes, “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.”