It's almost inevitable that music fans dislike a band's new album when it first comes out. Often it's because it "doesn't sound like" the particular band's old material that is loved so much, but sometimes it's because the new album is simply incongruous with the rest of their discography.
Weezer's latest, Raditude, falls into the latter category.
Weezer's songs have always been able to evoke a certain fun-loving attitude. Songs like "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "Buddy Holly" represent the band's quintessential nerd-rock core. The only sign of hope off Raditude comes from their sugary single entitled, "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To."
Their last album, the Red Album (2008), demonstrated singer Rivers Cuomo's cheeky songwriting and catchy lyrics, especially on "Troublemaker" and "Pork and Beans." But many tracks on the new album are disappointing, specifically "Love is the Answer." While featuring unique psychedelic guest vocals from Amrita Sen that may mislead listeners to think it will be a song with substance and meaning, the lyrics fall flat and feel cliché.
The album's attempt at a self-aware, hip-hop style song is presented on "Can't Stop Partying," featuring Lil' Wayne. The best part of the song is Wayne's verse in which he references his own song ("Please don't shoot me down because / I'm an endangered species"). Even Wayne's playful, obvious rhymes in the verse are more interesting and amusing than most of what Weezer puts forth on the rest of the album.
The deluxe edition of the album features extra tracks, which Cuomo recorded previously but never made it onto any other albums. There is no surprise why this happened - these songs are incompatible with their earlier material and it makes sense that they would get added on to the end of Raditude, a wholly incongruous set of songs.
The most upsetting aspect of the album is that it doesn't seem as if there was much effort put into it. Not only did they do the typical pull-in-a-big-name-rapper on "Can't Stop Partying," but they also recruited All-American Rejects Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler on "Put Me Back Together."
The album relied on the work from outside talent to shadow the half-hearted lyrics and chord progressions. Loyal Weezer fans will long for the days of Pinkerton and the Blue Album, when the members of the band themselves played with their own creativity and humor to create a great album.
While this review is noticeably harsh, it is only because I know Weezer can, and has, done much better work. They need to regroup, steer clear of mainstream sugar-pop influences and get back in touch with what entertained fans in the first place.