Presuming to know what’s going through an artist’s mind can be dangerous, especially when that artist’s muse is as flighty as Rivers Cuomo’s. Post-Pinkerton, that little bugger has led the Weezer frontman through a number of inexplicable stylistic swerves, from the power-pop reboot of the self-titled “green album” to the underrated guitar heroics of Maladroit to the faux-Who theatrics of the “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” from the self-titled “red album.” Saddling the band’s latest with a title that grows stupider with every utterance—Raditude—may indicate to some that Cuomo’s muse has taken a layover in “just goofin’” territory, and the lack of sentiment within would certainly confirm that. But digging deeper—and taking the briefest glimpse at what’s behind the Buddy Holly glasses—reveals there’s no one dictating the songs Cuomo writes these days other than himself. And he apparently wants to hear more of the last two years of Top 40 radio.
Weezer’s first and second records set trends; its seventh chases them, with “The Girl Got Hot” aping the Gary Glitter shuffle that’s been all the rage post-”I Kissed A Girl” and Lil Wayne dropping a second-rate verse into the 3OH!3-esque “Can’t Stop Partying.” Still, the band—and a handful of outside songwriters—have written some well-crafted pop for Raditude, as the synth breakdown of “I’m Your Daddy” and the subtle counterpoint to Cuomo’s “Put Me Back Together” vocals attest. But hooks only go so far, and outside of “Put Me Back Together” and “I Don’t Want To Let You Go,” Cuomo doesn’t appear interested in propping them up with human emotions. Even for a guy who once admitted to having inappropriate relations with his fan mail, it’s an odd record—a personal statement without the person.