Detroit punks hone their ample strengths on a third album that's pure rock 'n' roll
Album review: Weezer - 'Raditude'
Rivers Cuomo polishes up with Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga, but it's hollow inside
So it’s a shock, in 2009, to find this awkward, crabby outsider hurling himself headlong into the world of blockbuster pop, penning songs for Katy Perry and covering Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ live – a version of which appears on the deluxe edition of this, Weezer’s seventh album. There’s also a guest rap from Lil Wayne on the synth-boosted track 'Can’t Stop Partying’. Meanwhile, tracks such as ‘I’m Your Daddy’ come slathered in the kind of sugary guitar distortion last heard sellotaping together Ashlee Simpson’s record.
Is it convincing? Not quite. It works when Cuomo’s skewering the hollowness of that world. ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ does that job admirably, poking fun at ghetto fabulous stars who “gotta have the cars, gotta have the jewels”. Mostly, though, he plays it straight: these are big, dumb, glossy pop songs, delineating a weirdly phony world of open freeways, jocks, mallrats and parties where hot girls put their hands in the air like they just don’t care. You long for a riptide of geek rage to undercut the slickness, but those moments are frustratingly rare.
Cuomo is not critiquing pop, he’s immersing himself in it: doo-wop pastiche ‘I Don’t Want To Let You Go’ finds him Xeroxing Diane Warren’s dog-eared book of romantic clichés: “The pain is killing me, but I can’t let it be”. Is this his authentic voice, how he really feels? It’s hard to believe.
The band are on more comfortable ground when they play to their traditional strengths. ‘Put Me Back Together’ is magnificent, a heartsore tale of nerd romance to rank alongside ‘Buddy Holly’. This being Weezer, it also boasts a truly heroic chorus. And this album is full of them: colossal, gleaming hooks, buffed to a Botox sheen. But given what we know about Cuomo’s eccentric inner world, it’s hard not to find those dazzlingly perfect melodies kind of hollow.
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Click here tp get your copy of Weezer's 'Raditude' from the Rough Trade shop.
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