If Weezer's 2008 eponymous Red Album was all about singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo coming to terms with heading into middle age, then 2009's Raditude finds Cuomo looking back upon his own carefree, dirt bike-riding youth and writing songs about it, but filtered through the eyes of Weezer's younger fans. In that sense, Raditude comes off as a kind of Big Chill-esque concept album for Gen-Y kids who grew up in the '90s. To these ends, Cuomo packs these largely poppy and rockin' songs with concrete images and cultural references that are just slightly warped and out of phase with his own generational timeline. As on the driving, '60s-soul inflected opening track "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," Cuomo croons to his teenage girlfriend, "Your Slayer t-shirt fit the scene just right" and later, "We watched Titanic and it didn't make us sad." The Titanic reference is clearly a touchstone for any Gen-Y kid, and even the Slayer shout-out -- though an '80s metal band -- seems to imply a '90s teen wearing her older brother's worn-out t-shirt. At first, the song seems to be a sophomoric and jokey make-out track hinging on the line, "So make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." However, the song ends with the teen couple staring at each other as grown-ups in a troubled marriage with nothing left to say to fix their problems but, "make a move 'cuz I ain't got all night." The ironic ending only backs up the notion that Cuomo, having worked through his own mid-life crisis on the "Red Album," now has his aging Gen-Y fans and their issues on his mind. Musically, Raditude really sounds like vintage Weezer, but never in a pandering, played-out way. In that sense, we get the band's now-classic mix of old-school '50s pop with big, hooky '70s rawk guitars, and tracks like sublimely power poppy "I'm Your Daddy," and the cheeky glitter rock-inspired anthem "The Girl Got Hot" are as sparkling with creative enthusiasm as anything the band has done since "Buddy Holly." Similarly, tracks that include the slight hip-hop and R&B touches the band has favored in recent years fit perfectly into the sound of an album crafted for an audience who came of age in the late '90s and early '00s. Even the much anticipated party-rap song "Can't Stop the Partying" featuring rapper Lil Wayne is a dark, minor-key rumination on the downside of living it up on the party circuit and is the furthest thing from white-guy novelty-rap goofiness. Ultimately, it's Weezer's deft mixing of immediately hummable rock with lyrics that reveal Cuomo's own melancholy gaze on the pop landscape that makes Raditude a passionate surrender to growing up and a throw-your-arms-up-and-scream ride down the other side of the mid-life roller coaster.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar