If there’s one thing you can’t criticize Weezer for, it’s playing too long. Most of the band’s albums clock in around 33 minutes, including the group’s latest Ratitude. But that’s not short enough for frontman Rivers Cuomo.
“We’re going to put out albums more frequently, and they might be shorter,” he says on the phone from his L.A. studio. “I don’t feel like I need 12 song epics anymore — I want my music in smaller doses.”
Ratitude, the group’s seventh record, isn’t the band’s most succinct disc — that title goes to 2001’s 28 minute Green Album — but it is Cuomo’s quickest record since then. With 10 songs it moves speedily along, which is just how the Harvard educated singer-songwriter wants it.
“I’m going by how I listen to music and what I want as a music fan,” he explains. “After six songs you say this was really satisfying. Eight songs is cool, but that’s enough. Then there’s another song. At that point I have to switch.”
Of course, if you’re going to write an eight or 10 song record, all the tunes have to be good. And that could be a challenge. Ratitude isn’t the band’s greatest record — Weezer’s Blue Album and Pinkerton are still better than his more recent work. Its juvenile lyrics don’t do the disc any favours — the song Girl Got Hot is a silly track about a homely girl who turned hot — while musically some of the songs lack the complexity of earlier work.
If he scrapped two or three of the mediocre tunes, maybe Cuomo would have a strong, short disc. (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, the album’s title track, is an infectious power pop tune that fits nicely along side Hash Pipe or any of his stronger songs from the last eight years.
Despite some of the less memorable tracks, Cuomo still has that quirky creativity that won over fans in the first place. That’s evident on the song Can’t Stop Partying, with Lil Wayne. It’s a bizarre tune, especially Wayne’s sluggish rap, but thanks to the genre bending, it’s one of the more thought-provoking songs here. “Working with Lil Wayne wasn’t weird to me,” he says. “The moment I heard him do it, I wrote down every word, memorized it and would rap it to myself.”
Maybe Weezer won’t just shorten records in the future — the band could change direction all together. A hip-hop album perhaps? “I’d never do a rap album,” Cuomo says. “I love rap, but I love melody too.”
Weezer plays the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 5
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