Over the past month or so, a few live performances of new Weezer tracks have shown up on the interwebs and frankly, they kinda suck. It’s no big surprise really, especially with titles like “Can’t Stop Partying,” “I’m Your Daddy,” and, last but not least, “The Girl Got Hot.” Ever since Make Believe, Rivers Cuomo seems to be stuck in this middle ground between aging alt-rocker desperately grabbing for whatever iota of teen-angst he can muster up, and a sad excuse for an arena rock star. It’s really quite depressing.
I don’t hate Weezer, though, in fact their first two albums are, in my opinion, phenomenal. I still go through phases where all I’ll listen to for a week or so is The Blue Album or Pinkerton — it’s a weird obsession that’s part mopey self-indulgence, and part genuine love for the group that got me through the hell that was middle school. But that’s neither here nor there.
Yesterday, Weezer announced that they’ll release their seventh album, Raditude (which keeps in line with this succession of awful titles) on October 27th, and that the first — and again, horribly titled — single “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” will drop on August 25th. Luckily (or not), leaks of “I Want You To” (click to listen) have been circulating the past two days and due to my inability to just write Weezer off whenever they release a new track, I put on my headphones and braced myself.
First off, “I Want You To” is not great. But it’s not horrible either. Actually, it’s rather good. The quick acoustic riff is catchy as hell and the marching snare and clap-track are simple but solid nonetheless, especially when the guitar drops out right before the apt guitar-driven chorus. What makes this song stand out from previous singles like “Pork and Beans” and “Beverly Hills,” though, is that on some level Rivers is able to tap into that adolescent awkwardness he abandoned/lost after Pinkerton initially received less than stellar reviews and, as many Weezer conspiracy theorists believe, original bassist Matt Sharp left the band.
The lyrics are kinda “El Scorcho” and kinda “Buddy Holly” — a fairly vivid picture of self-conscious teenage sexuality. Her Slayer t-shirt, her fearlessness, his timidness, watching Titanic over and over, the void of conversation, and hoping she’ll make a move while sitting on the couch with her parents. Obviously it’s not all great, for instance: “Your mom cooked meat loaf, even though I don’t eat meat/ I dug you so much, I took some for the team.” That I can do without. But still, there’s this moment at the very end of the song where Rivers hits his falsetto and for a split second there’s just a hint of frailty or nervousness or pain or whatever it was that made the first two Weezer records so great.
I’m probably reading into this song way too much, though I can’t really help it at this point. But at the end of the day, I’d say that Weezer has released their best song in almost eight years, which is saying a lot.