Raditude’s swift appearance on the heels of 2008’s The Red Album is hardly the only surprise Weezer has in store on its seventh record. Raditude upends any expectations audiences may have of Weezer, amplifying their trademarks to a dizzying degree – the pop hooks dig deeper, the rock hits so hard it bruises – but the group subverts these signatures with a sly hand while pushing boldly into new territory.
Perhaps the collaborative nature of Raditude – arguably its calling card – is in the collective spirit of the band’s experience on their last tour. “It feels like an extension of all the fun we were having last year with the Hootenannies,” explains Rivers Cuomo, referring to Weezer’s innovative supporting tour for The Red Album. Inspired by the old folk sing-a-longs of the ‘60s, Weezer invited fans onstage- hundreds, at times- to play the band’s songs, teaching them the chords while Rivers, Brian and Scott sang.
The wild, wooly settings borne of the Hootenannies couldn’t help but push the band in new directions, turning Rivers into a demonstrative performer. “For 15 years I went onstage and looked at my feet as I strummed my guitar,” recalls Rivers. “That wouldn’t work at the Hootenannies! We had to come out of our shell. We feel like the experience of doing it was boot camp for being frontmen. If we’re comfortable walking into a room of a few hundred kids with random instruments, guiding them through the process of playing some Weezer tunes, we can feel comfortable in an arena, knowing that we can interact with a more traditional crowd.”
With its rollicking communal spirit, Weezer’s latest offering can be viewed as a natural progression from those resulting impromptu jam sessions. Raditude sees the band partying with Lil’ Wayne, hitting the clubs with Jermaine Dupri and bringing in a host of Indian musicians to push the band into a psychedelic, spiritual dimension. Within these 10 songs lie boundless possibilities and ceaseless excitement, proof that Weezer remains a band that defies easy summations and can never be taken for granted, a band who has grown as they’ve opened their horizons.
Part of Raditude’s charm comes from its thrilling unpredictability. No song offers an indication of what’s next: Weezer inverts Jermaine Dupri’s hedonism on his Cuomo collaboration “Can’t Stop Partying,” spinning it into a minor key that gives it an underlying ironic tension; the band pounds out a classic arena-rocker with the gleefully lascivious “The Girl Got Hot;” they ride a sleek electro groove on “I’m Your Daddy,” while “Love is the Answer” builds slowly, surely to its swaying anthemic close and “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” kicks it all off with its clanking acoustic guitars and Motown beat, setting the tone for an album that’s filled with thrilling surprises, infectious melodies, marrying Weezer’s hookiest pop with their heaviest rock. As Cuomo says, “It sounds like a roomful of people having a great time” but more than that, Raditude is Weezer’s wildest, weirdest, best record yet, easily supporting Cuomo’s assertion that “Raditude feels like the greatest realization of my musical goals.”
Raditude caps off a remarkable decade that saw Weezer reassert its position as one of the biggest, best rock bands in the world while also seeing their influence echo through a generation who absorbed the sound and feel of the group’s two classic ‘90s albums: their self-titled 1994 debut, dubbed The Blue Album featuring such era-defining hits as “Undone—The Sweater Song” and “Buddy Holly” and their cult classic 1996 sophomore set Pinkerton. Weezer refused to ride on those past glories when they returned in 2001 with The Green Album, sounding vigorous on the hits “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun.” The hard, heavy Maladroit, featuring “Dope Nose” and “Keep Fishin’,” followed in 2002. Three years later, Weezer released Make Believe in 2005, an album highlighted by “Beverly Hills,” their first single to climb into the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The Red Album arrived in 2008 along with the single “Pork and Beans” whose YouTube-satirizing video won Weezer their first Grammy.