I listened to Weezer’s new album, Raditude, a couple of weeks ago and have been spending lots of time trying to organize my many thoughts into one coherent statement. What it comes down to is that I’m one of those disagreeable “Weezer purists” because I think that every album after the Green Album has been disappointing, each one a little more so than the last. I think their decline in quality was caused by the terrible reviews that Pinkerton received when it first came out. Coming off of the success of the Blue Album, Pinkerton, to me, was Weezer at their Weeziest. This was Rivers Cuomo putting his best efforts into an album. Then, everyone hated it. I even hated it the first time I heard it. But, I kept listening to it at the behest of a fellow middle-schooler named Jon Dugan, and eventually came to love it. Once Pinkerton got trashed by critics, however, I believe Rivers Cuomo began his trend of writing for the masses. This can be most easily heard by listening to Pinkerton and the Green Album back to back. Now, I liked the Green Album—along with everybody else. But Pinkerton was like a person that it takes you a while to get to know, and eventually become friends with, and maybe you didn’t even like that person all that much to begin with. The Green Album is the jock, the popular kid who makes it impossible for you to dislike him because he’s just too cool and hip.
Basically, I think this was the pivotal point in Weezer’s history. There were a whole mess of albums to follow (some messier than others): Maladroit (so-so), Make Believe (yuck), the Red Album (I think I liked two songs), and the most recent Raditude. Of course, the first single to come from this album is a catchy and toe-tapping little number, which I can’t say I hate—but it’s just another throwaway-type song, nothing like the stuff they used to do. The best way for me to articulate how I feel about Weezer’s new material is this: it’s the type of stuff I can listen to on the treadmill. It’s gym music, not music that I can just sit with and listen to the album in its entirety.
BUT, here is the rub in my argument. A lot of times, I complain that Rivers Cuomo has dumbed down his songs to cater to a mass audience of teens and tweens (i.e. “Beverly Hills,” and the more recent “In the Mall”). However, what was he singing about in Pinkerton? Chasing after Asian girls, being awkward, essentially a lot of the same pubescent boy stuff. Granted, I still think the lyrics in Blue/Pinkerton are more artfully crafted than the new stuff, but that’s just me. Also, unlike my patience with Pinkerton, I listen to these new albums once, and that’s about it. Sometimes I wonder, “Am I just not giving it enough of a chance?” But, with songs like “Can’t Stop Partying” (feat. Lil Wayne) and “Love is the Answer” (I was done after 30 seconds), I think the answer is a resounding “No.”
Now, here was my epiphanic moment. If Rivers Cuomo didn’t really sell his soul, and has essentially been writing the same songs for the past 15 years…did Weezer really change, or did I change? Maybe I’ve just turned into a close-minded snob and will be destined to order kids to “turn down that Lil Wayne racket” while I sit quietly listening to “Only in Dreams” and “Across the Sea.”
What are your thoughts on this matter?