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Review

Weezer fails to reconnect with unoriginal sound

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November 13, 2009

If you’ve paid any attention to rock and roll at all over the past decade or so, you should know for a fact that nobody can make being a nerd look cooler than Rivers Cuomo.

The paradoxical image of a geeky, socially awkward rock star he portrays is not just an act-he, along with the rest of the regular guys who make up Weezer-has never been shy about admitting that he shares every one of the ups and downs as we do. Lead singers/ guitarists who graduated with a degree in English literature from Harvard just don’t come around that often.

For their latest album, “Raditude,” Weezer once again rely on the only method they know to compose songs, one that has been faithful to them for nearly two decades: power pop. It might be hard to believe the cringe-inducing cover image of a dog leaping a living room could have any sort of decent musical content behind it, but amidst a sea of terribly disappointing and head-scratching filler, there is at least one interesting nugget on this record that any guy who has fond memories of high school relationships will love.

Cuomo and his band mates prove they’re still in perfect tune to the all-too-common theme of amateurish and klutzy courtships on the single, “If you’re Wondering if I Want You to) I want you to” that every high school kid has ingrained into their memories. Cuomo croons in an upbeat manner about the uncomfortable situation of meeting mom and dad. “I took you to Best Buy, you took me home to meet your mom and dad / Your mom cooked meatloaf even though I don’t eat meat / I dug you so much, I took some for the team,” Cuomo affectionately and confidently recalls over Brian Bell’s overeager, frenetic guitar strokes. This snapshot might just be the most raw and natural we’ve seen Weezer in years, free from the smothering overproduction of big studio effects. Diehard Weezer fans will fall in love with it immediately, as it’s nothing short of a time machine back to 1994.

It’s generally difficult for artists to fill a single record reusing the same shtick without it getting tiresome, much less an entire seven-album discography, but it feels more and more like Weezer needs to collectively grow up.

Many moments on “Raditude” seem extremely forced, and ultimately come off as empty failures. “Love is the Answer,” which is completely Bollywood-infused (complete with a sitar), is horrible to a shocking degree. “Can’t Stop Partying,” featuring Lil Wayne (you read that right), puts Weezer in an unspeakably unnatural environment. Listening to Cuomo sing, “They’re bringing bottles of the Goose /And all the girls in the corner getting lose,” is akin to being stabbed to death by a dinner knife-the initial shock is followed only by excruciating, unending pain.

To a certain extent, Weezer has been grasping for straws, changing their sound for the past three or four albums, each one sounding more generic and watered- down than the last. A deplorable, lazy compilation of random, childish samplings, “Raditude” crosses the line of offensiveness.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.