Release Date: Sep 14, 2010
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It feels great to have Weezer back If Weezer were as good at making albums as they were at making album covers they’d be regular festival headliners by now. And while it speaks volumes that all the pre-release buzz around the band centred on their mooted plans to play music that is 16 years old, the fact remains that Weezer are overwhelmingly loved: for them to make an album even half as good as ‘The Green Album’ would be an open goal. It’s a pleasure to report, then, that ‘Hurley’ is a fine album – time will tell if it’s a great one – and the likes of ‘Ruling Me’ and ‘Trainwrecks’ are as good as anything they’ve done post-’Pinkerton’, with the former containing a chorus so joyous it could easily sit next to ‘Surf Wax America’ in Weezer’s canon of perfect pop.
Every time a new [a]Weezer[/a] album comes out the number of people bearing residual good will towards them slowly shrinks (especially when they don’t send out any review copies until the album’s actually bloody out). It’s a pleasure to report, then, that ‘[b]Hurley[/b]’, the band’s eighth album, is a return to form in a huge way. Of the highlights, ‘[b]Ruling Me[/b]’ is as buoyant as it is bittersweet, ‘[b]Where’s My Sex?[/b]’ a coy ode to just how good it feels to wear socks and ‘[b]Memories[/b]’ a warm reminder of just how much fun they’ve had over the years.
Leaping from the majors to the indies, Weezer misses not a beat, choosing to continue the co-writing craze Rivers Cuomo kicked off on 2009’s Raditude. Hurley -- named after Jorge Garcia’s beloved Lost character for no particular reason, but anybody with three eponymous albums in an eight-LP career doesn’t care much for titles in the first place -- is marginally louder and rougher than the clean sheen of Raditude, but not enough to fool anybody into thinking this is a punk rebirth. For Cuomo, independence means he can follow whatever notion seizes his fancy, and in this case he’s capitalizing on collaborations, penning eight of Hurley’s ten songs (the album runs four longer on a Deluxe Edition that includes a strong cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida”) with a roster so diverse it borders on the nonsensical.
Clearly Rivers Cuomo is a believer in the phrase 'don’t judge a book by its cover'. By choosing to adorn Weezer’s eighth studio album with a large picture of actor Jorge Lopez’s face, Rivers is clearly showing the world another example of his ‘quirky’ sense of humour. But to many, seeing Hurley from Lost’s face staring back at them is enough reason to not bother with this, or indeed any future, Weezer album.
Review Summary: They're still kicking ass. They're train wrecks.Well shit, just when it seemed like the final nail in Weezer's career was about to be hammered into the the glossy, fat dude from Lost laden cover of their new album Hurley, it appears that the band, who spent the last decade releasing exceedingly worse and worse records under the guise of self-parody and irony, have remembered that having a quality album is more than suckering in people with massive singles like “Pork and Beans” and “ (If You're Wondering If I Want To) I Want To”. Make Believe, The Red Album, and Raditude made it seem like the mid-nineties glory days of Weezer were a thing of the past.
It’s worth noting that Hurley, like last year’s Raditude, is less a Weezer record than a Rivers Cuomo solo project. After the deeply collaborative (and hit-or-miss) The Red Album failed to charm critics or earn the band another platinum plaque, the writing was on the wall. Cuomo has always had a dictatorial streak, but Raditude marked the first time he made his bandmates play second fiddle to session men and outside songwriters.
Is it completely unreasonable to expect something resembling actual music from Weezer at this point? It has to be one of the most puzzling and enduring stories in all of rock ‘n’ roll. Weezer has somehow maintained a massively devoted fan base full of individuals who are unrelentingly dissatisfied with almost all of the band’s post-Pinkerton output. Weezer’s long-suffering fans have been willing to weather Maladroit, and “Beverly Hills”, and Scott Shriner’s vocals, for those rare occurrences where Rivers Cuomo accidentally writes a brilliant song.
For a band that has been in the public eye for almost twenty years, Weezer must be commended for equating their pop sensibilities with more contemporary forms of studio trickery. While numerous bands walk the long road of shame once they can’t figure out how to reinvent themselves, the California foursome remain relevant by keeping up with pop culture trends. They preserve one simply philosophy with each new release: have loads of fun, even if we offend a few along the way.
Hurley is Weezer's first record for Epitaph, a partnership that makes a ton of sense since that label has long been the province of smart-alecky teens who like skateboarding and jacked-up power-pop. And it's doubly fitting because Weezer are getting back to basics here after a few years recording with Lil Wayne and letting the other band members sing. Indeed, there is something of a noticeable "return to form" about Hurley-- their best album since at least, uh, Maladroit.
It seems it's become an indie-rock rite of passage to fall in love with Weezer in your formative years, eagerly await their next album, buy into the hype, convince yourself on first or second listen that it’s not that bad, then slowly realize the truth: They’re not the band they were in 1995. Is there anyone under the age of 30 who won’t posit two things: (1) That “Say It Ain’t So” fucking rules, and that (2) “Beverly Hills” fucking sucks? The release of Hurley, Weezer’s eighth studio album and first for storied indie label Epitaph, makes me wonder if the cycle of being let down by Weezer has started anew for kids aged 13-17. It also makes me wonder just what, exactly, Weezer fans expect from Rivers Cuomo, a man who’s had more thoughts and internal monologues projected onto him than maybe any other musician of his time.
In a seven-year period between 1994 and 2001, Weezer released three albums that became touchstones of American alternative rock, arguably inventing the contemporary conception of emo – melodic hard rock, with angst-ridden lyrics, sung by nerdy punk-rock guys. Since then? The albums have kept coming, but the world has moved on, and the band's leader, Rivers Cuomo, seems to have lost the sure touch he once had. This time he's been promising a return to form, and certainly Hurley seems devoted to the idea of the 90s – opener Memories harks back to the days when Weezer seemed like a fresh, slightly puzzled take on grunge: "Pissing in plastic cups before we went on stage/ Playing hackey sack back when Audioslave were still Rage.
As endearing as Jorge Garcia's face is, shining warmly from the cover of Weezer's eighth release, the timely pop reference to a Lost character is the perfect symbol for a band on a continued downward spiral into meme-based gimmickry and music with zero staying power. [rssbreak] Hurley is a wall-to-wall series of reductive numbers like Smart Girls, Memories and Trainwrecks, with Rivers Cuomo's typical lyrical self-deprecation chugging complacently over basic chord progressions. The only real departures are a cover of Coldplay's single Viva La Vida, where the frontman's off-key whine clashes with the song's pristine strings, and the Linda Perry co-credited Brave New World.
Weezer’s slow transformation from geeky alternative heroes to mainstream rock bottom feeders has been pretty well-documented elsewhere, so I won’t bother with any over-thought meta-analysis here. This band used to be pretty good, and now they’re not so good. That’s that. The announcement of Hurley, the band’s eighth album, offered a glimmer of hope in that it would be the group’s first-ever release outside the major-label confines of Geffen.
Weezer’s eighth studio album is named after the Lost character Hurley, known for being a magnet for misfortune. Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates can relate. Weezer’s sucktastic 2009 included getting dropped by Geffen Records, surviving a tour bus crash, and releasing one of its weakest albums, Ratitude. Hurley represents a terrific rebound, a blast of sonic sweetness that finds the band integrating ’60s pop influences (Beach Boys; Phil Spector ”Wall of Sound” soundishness) into their tight, punk-pop songwriting; it’s altogether more upbeat than what you might expect given the bleakness of the previous year.
Just as there will never be another Nirvana, there will never be another Pinkerton. When something has that kind of a seismic cultural shift (Nirvana obviously more so than Weezer's classic sophomore album), it's impossible to duplicate, simply because it was done without expectation or anticipation. So all Weezer diehards still hoping against hope that Rivers Cuomo would one day return to the raw, emotional catharsis he subsequently abandoned in the wake of Pinkerton's initial failure pretty much gave up the ghost after hearing 2009's Raditude, a record described as "Weezer's Big Dumb Pop Record" by this very writer last year.
The best songs on Hurley are immediately familiar, Rivers Cuomo typically charismatic. Lou Thomas 2010 Weezer are undoubtedly massive heroes. Some 16 years after their breakout single Buddy Holly pretty much invented geek rock, the loveably effete quartet can still crank out brilliant melodies when the mood suits. Eight albums in, though, and what more can they say? Unfortunately, not a great deal.