Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Hurley by Weezer

Epitaph Records
Release Date: September 10, 2010

Here we go again. Since 2008, Weezer has almost seemed like Weezy with their uncharacteristically prolific release of music: Hurley represents their third LP in the last three years, with a fourth album of unreleased tracks (Death to Fake Metal) due in November. This would typically elicit excitement from any normal fan. However, the more typical response would probably be uncertainty and curiosity. 2008’s self-titled effort (The Red Album) and 2009’s Raditude were both exercises in mediocrity, featuring solid albeit straightforward singles sitting side-by-side with sloppy, groan-inducing songs. Hurley, featuring perhaps the greatest album cover of the year, seemed poised to continue this trend. In recent years, Weezer has seemed more proficient at making internet memes and lame jokes than at making music. Most fans (myself included) put up with this auditory debauchery in hopes of another album analogous to their first three or four. For once, fear not: Hurley is the first Weezer album since 2002’s Pinkerton that makes me not want to punch myself in the face.

Packaged with that lovely close-up of Jorge Garcia, Hurley more or less follows Weezer tradition of delivering ten, non-related injections of power-pop. This time around, however, there is not that repetitious stench of lack of effort. Most of the songs seem well-polished and not utterly inane. As usual, the lead single, “Memories”, is an exemplary illustration of their ability to create an irresistible sing-along that is also funny, as it humorously details the band’s antics when they first began. The distinguishing characteristic of their eighth LP is the presence of multiple, slower jams that actually deliver with seemingly relative ease. “Hang On” is one example, featuring Michael Cera on backing vocals and mandolin, but the clear-cut standout is the closer “Time Flies”. Definitely a leap out of their stringent comfort zone, the song features a grainy, lo-fi sound and a country/folk feel, almost reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

The only song that really continues the recent trend of infuriating inanity is “Where’s My Sex?”, a mind-numbingly straightforward, chugging tune about the near-homonymic nature of the words “socks” and “sex”. Mind you, frontman Rivers Cuomo is a Harvard graduate. Knock it off.

Other than this minor misstep, and the general lack of cohesion of the album, the sheer improvement of quality of each individual song more than makes up for these flaws. Any Weezer fan who has been reluctant to bother with their recent work should come out of the woodwork: Hurley is definitely a step in the right direction.

Key Tracks: “Memories”, “Time Flies”, “Unspoken”

Rating: 3.5/5