Weezer – Hurley
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Record Label: Epitaph
Weezer made their mark in the 90’s by being one of the forefathers of “nerd-pop” (their 1994 self-titled debut album) and emo (accidentally with 1996’s Pinkerton). The 2000’s have been a different story, however. Over the past decade, the quartet has released one solid album (2002’s Maladroit) and a sampling of decent songs spanning over the other 4 albums. In fact, the band had been getting more attention for their wacky covers than their tunes.
It looked like it was going to be more of the same when Rivers Cuomo and company released the artwork to their newest album, Hurley. The cover featured - yep, you guessed it - the man who portrayed Hurley from the television drama, Lost (actor Jorge Garcia). While seeing his friendly mug plastered on the band’s eighth studio album was oddly amusing, it wasn’t much of a stretch to expect the music to be subpar. I mean, this is what we should expect after the last abominations. But something wonderfully strange happened during the quick studio turnaround from 2009’s Raditude. Who knows what it was, but somehow the band got their groove back and recorded their most genuine music in a long time. In fact, Hurley is easily the best release from the band in 14 years.
In fact, Hurley sounds awesomely vintage with lead single “Memories” being exactly that. Cuomo exclaims, “Memories/make me want to go back there/back there.” And back there we go as Cuomo and fellow guitarist Brian Bell lead the way with buzzing guitar riffs tinged with just the right amount of synth. Add in some backing vocals from the Jackass crew, and you have one fantastic opener. The big chorus and backing vocals on “Ruling Me” will bring back Blue feelings, while “Unspoken” will leave its mark in your membrane permanently. Paced by an acoustic guitar, some flute flairs from jazz musician Greg Vail, and Cuomo’s voice cracking over the lyrics, “Our life will be broken/our hate will be unspoken.” It beams with emotional all the way to its massive climax, as the band, especially drummer Pat Wilson, flexes their musical chops.
But it’s the one-two punch in the middle of the album that willl put fans into nostalgic fits of joy. “Run Away” is a good ol’ slice of Americana thanks to Ryan Adams, who co-wrote the song and lends some vocals to this gritty, distorted, yet delicate mid-tempo song. He’s not the only big name to appear on Hurley, as Michael Cera joins Cuomo on “Hang On,” offering some light backing vocals as well as his sick skills on the mandolin. Strings and the hurdy-gurdy shower the track with the kind of vulnerability we haven’t heard from Cuomo in a while.
Of course the same things that crippled the previous albums appear here as well, although not as often. Despite the inside joke (“socks” being pronounced as “sex), “Where’s My Sex?” sounds like a Raditude throwaway, while “Smart Girls” features of smorgasbord of different instruments and sounds, resulting in a muddled, directionless pop song. Yeah, you might have a blast singing along to these tracks in the car (I know I do), but in your heart you know they are horrible. Thankfully, the folksy closer, “Time Flies,” offers redemption. It sounds like it was recorded in one take, but it has that raw, unpolished feel that the band has been missing all these years.
Weezer has accomplished something fans would have thought to be impossible only a year ago: creating a worthwhile, heartfelt album. Hurley is a reminder of why we fell in love with Weezer in the first place – the power-pop anthems, grungy rock songs, the gawd-awful yet quirky lyrics – it’s all here. The passion and aggression is back in Rivers Cuomo’s voice for the first time in a long time. The closer simply states, “Time flies/when you’re having fun/time flies/when you live on the run.” Yes it does, Rivers. Yes it does, indeed.
Dear Drew, you may have just convinced me to buy Hurley. I love love love Blue and Pinkerton but have no time for any of their other releases, other than the few salvagable singles (Island Song, Pork and Beans, NOT Beverly Hills). I sure hope this disc is as good as you say.
I actually liked Make Believe a lot and think that's the only solid album they've released this past decade, but totally agree with this. I think they have a hit with either "Ruling Me" or "Trainwrecks" and a good chunk of this record is the best stuff they've written in a decade. Coming from Raditude to this is a huge improvement.
Solid review, Drew. I'm right there with you; I adore this album. I've found something to like about every Weezer album except for maybe Make Believe, which I still can't get into. I just didn't take Raditude seriously and it was fun while being terrible. And I actually really enjoyed most of the Red Album, I'm not gonna lie. But this is for sure my favorite album from them since the Green Album. So glad they're back to form.
Ruling Me, Run Away, Hang On and Time Flies are all easily their best songs since Pinkerton. and Unspoken is certainly one of my favorite Weezer songs ever already. so happy they turned it around. now add solos back to the mix next album, and life will be perfect.
And I actually really enjoyed most of the Red Album, I'm not gonna lie.
if the Red Album didnt include what amounted to the other members' side projects, it wouldve been great. if the bonus songs were album songs instead of Everybody Get Dangerous and those 3 out of place songs.... I love Greatest Man and Angel And The One so much.