Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Track-by-Track Review of the New Weezer Album

I'm one of the few people I know who enjoys Weezer almost as much now as I did in the nineties. (The others are in my immediate family.) On some level I have enjoyed every album that Weezer has recorded, and I still have high expectations whenever a new one comes along.

Now that I've had several days to evaluate Weezer's latest offering, Raditude, I'll pass along my thoughts. First, if you haven't already purchased Weezer's Raditude, you're probably better off buying individual tracks than paying for the entire thing. (You can do that now, thanks to the Internet.) So, instead of reviewing Raditude as an album, I'll break it down song-by-song:

1. "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To": Outstanding. Great opening track; great single. Musically it's a lot like "A Town Called Malice" by The Jam. Lyrically, it's a lot like a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore. One of Weezer's best.

2. "I'm Your Daddy": It's not terrible, but it's not good. The title comes from this line in the chorus: "You are my baby tonight, and I'm your daddy." Really? I'd expect a line like that from a 19-year-old college student writing his first song, not from the guy who wrote Pinkerton and Maladroit. Then again, Rivers Cuomo co-wrote this song with Dr. Luke. When you consider Dr. Luke's other work, this song makes more sense.

3. "The Girl Got Hot": Sounds like something Bowling for Soup would do.

4. "Can't Stop Partying": Fortunately, iTunes gives me the option of appending "(bonus track)" to this song's title and moving it to the end of the album—or off the album entirely. It's a travesty that "Can't Stop Partying" gets an album slot while much better Weezer songs—"Suzanne" and "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly"—are stuck on obscure movie soundtracks (albeit soundtracks for great obscure movies). And with all due respect to Lil Wayne, his contributions to "Can't Stop Partying" aren't helpful. It's not that hip hop and Weezer don't mix; it just doesn't work here. This song sounds like a B-side, or something that might one day turn up on a box set.

5. "Put Me Back Together": Good song. Sounds more like Jimmy Eat World than Weezer. (I'll let you decide whether that's good or bad.)

6. "Tripping Down the Freeway": It's fun; it's snappy; it makes a lot of sense as a Weezer song. If you're only going to buy a few songs from Raditude, make this one of them.

7. "Love Is the Answer": Love it. Good use of the sitar, and Amrita Sen's Hindi vocals are fantastic (in the same way that NBA action is fantastic). My only gripe with this one is the lyrics. They're kinda hokey. (The first line is "There will come a day when we transcend our pain." It sounds like it should mean something, but I'm not sure that it does.) I'm guessing that Rivers wrote the vocals to "Love Is the Answer" in haste while Scott Shriner was laying down the bass track. But somehow the hokey lyrics don't really hurt the song. Overall, "Love Is the Answer" is a keeper.

8. "Let It All Hang Out": "I'm going out with my homies, and I'm gonna let it all hang out." You know, Brian Wilson wrote plenty of songs about nothing more than hanging out in southern California (with or without his "best girl"), and no one complained. "Let It All Hang Out" might not stack up to "Good Vibrations," but it definitely holds its own against "I Get Around." It's best not to think too much about this one. Just enjoy it.

9. "In the Mall": Brian Wilson wouldn't touch this one. Actually, Pat Wilson, Weezer's drummer (and sometimes guitarist) wrote "In the Mall." Regardless of what you thought of "Automatic," Wilson's contribution to the Red Album, "In the Mall" isn't nearly as good. Don't buy this one unless you have a thing for album filler.

10. "I Don't Want to Let You Go": When it comes to an album's final track, Weezer always delivers with a song that is well written and sincere. "I Don't Want to Let You Go" is no exception. While it isn't as good as "Only in Dreams" (Blue), "Butterfly" (Pinkerton), or even "The Angel and the One" (Red), "I Don't Want to Let You Go" nonetheless is a nice closer.

I'm not sure how to rate Raditude as an album. On one hand, this is the only Weezer record I can't listen to straight through. (I almost always skip tracks 2–4.) And, were it up to me, Weezer would write another draft of all the lyrics, hire Ric Ocasek as a producer, and try again. On the other hand, Raditude has a half dozen songs that are better than anything on the Green Album, including a few gems that I would recommend adding to any best-of-Weezer playlist. In radians (one complete revolution, 2π, being the highest possible score, 0 being the lowest), I'll say that Raditude gets a π.

Here's how I would rate all seven:

1. Pinkerton (1996): 31π/16

2. Weezer (Blue Album, 1994): 15π/8

3. Weezer (Red Album, 2008): 13π/8

4. Maladroit (2002): 25π/16

5. Make Believe (2005): 11π/8

6. Raditude (2009): π

7. Weezer (Green Album, 2001): 15π/16


Blogger Matt Wittlief said...

You've outdone yourself. Kudos on the radian ratings.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Alton said...

You could also have purchased the Weezer snuggie and gotten the album for free.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Weezer are giving fans a chance to mix their demo for new track 'Shusui'. There's more about it here

6:34 AM  

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