One of the most endearing things about Warner Brothers cartoons is that they appeal to a certain age group across generations. So even as your father guffawed in his shorts at the exploits of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam in cinemas, you did the same when you followed their exploits on Doordarshan or on VHS. Today, it’s your nose-picking or spliff-smoking kid watching cartoons on cable (that is, if you’re not that nose-picking, spliff-smoking kid yourself) who is raucously following the misadventures of Porky Pig and the Tasmanian Devil. California band Weezer came into the early 90s scene as rock’n’roll’s version of Loony Tunes cartoons. Unfortunately, going by the band’s seventh album, Raditude, they are more like a tiresome, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool Disney movie.
Frontman Rivers Cuomo was (almost) every undergrad’s fun band. Numbers like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Undone (The sweater song)’ were infectious radio-shifters on MTV that made a certain pimply, hormonal sense. But as I listen to the first track ‘(If you’re wondering if I want you to) I want you to’ (the title itself inviting one tight slap) I figure that Weezer has just come out of a time capsule, completely unaware that they sound downright irritating and stupid — not cool-stupid in the punk or slacker sort of way, but stupid as in the product of inbreeding.
The opening number itself is forgotten as soon as it ends. With lines like “Your mum cooked meatloaf even though I don’t eat meat,” it didn’t stand a chance. ‘I’m you daddy,’ starts with the one-two, one-two nerd-rock beat and has at least a decent hookline. But a hookline doth not a song make. It’s more like the song that’ll accompany the opening credits of a Farrelly Bros movie. ‘The girl got hot’ never left the 90s college campus, while ‘Can’t stop partying’ has the distinct taste of an Eurovision Contest entry. Emo attachyar follows in ‘Put me back together’, although I can jolly well imagine Britney coming up with a better remix version of the number with a little help from Timbaland.
The guitar scratches lo-fi in ‘Trippin’ down the freeway’. Cuomo gives a shot at singing a straight song ‘with feeling’ late-Green Day-style. The effect would have been embarrassing were it not for a solid chunk of guitaring courtesy axeman Brian Bell. ‘Love is the answer’, Weezer’s George Harrison-ish take on life (“Love is the answer/ You have got to trust in the world”, is doused in a crummy Slumdog Millionaire afterglow. And why should that surprise anyone? Amrita Sen, the singer in ‘Jai ho’ (singing the dulcet bits, idiot, not the hollering parts sung by A.R. Rahman!) sings “Pyar ki bahar sadayen sunaiya” on this track that was originally slated for an earlier Weezer album (Make Believe) but was pulled out and given to Sugar Ray. So consider this ‘Bolly-Hollywood' folly version as a remix. A terrible one at that.
‘In the mall’ pulls out the heavy pedals. Weezer doing Metallica isn’t a good idea. But strangely, it’s the only song that really works on this album, turning the image of a standard mall into something closer to an M.C. Escher picture. The album should have closed there. But no. Cuomo and the boys couldn’t resist including ‘I don’t want to let you go’ and ‘Track 11’. And for that reason, I slamdunked their new album expertly into the dustbin from where other anally retentive bands like Blink-182 will surely one day emerge.