The biggest problem with Weezer’s recent output isn’t the music; it’s how the quartet shamelessly employs gimmicks that overshadow its tunes. The trend began with the Happy Days setting for 1994’s “Buddy Holly” video, and the stunts have become more egregious since, from the ironic-or-not? hair-metal detours on 2005’s Make Believe to the Internet-meme video for 2008’s “Pork and Beans.”
Weezer circa ’09 also seems to rely on attention-grabbing stunts: Electro-rock jam “Can’t Stop Partying” features a cameo from Lil Wayne, and the band has unveiled an official Snuggie. But new disc Raditude just happens to be the most straightforward pop-rock album Weezer has produced in years. “I’m Your Daddy” and “Trippin’ Down the Freeway” feature crunchy riffs and no-fat songwriting, while “The Girl Got Hot” employs wicked harmonies and glam-boogie rhythms.
Granted, there are clunkers, like the Bollywood-flavored “Love Is the Answer” and insipid frat-rock jam “In the Mall.” But “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” a clever acoustic-guitar strum-fest about summer puppy love, proves the guys in Weezer can still create the sincere nerd-rock that first brought them acclaim. They usually just choose not to.