I think everyone on the planet is in agreement when it comes to certain Weezer albums. Everyone likes The Blue Album and Pinkerton (well, they do now) with good reason – they’re bloody brilliant albums. We all knew Make Believe was a bit of a letdown. However, everything else seems to come under contest – is Raditude any good? How about Maladroit? And new album Hurley has caused more divisions than any of the others, mostly due to its cover. That’s right. The fact that the new album has a massive picture of Hurley from Lost’s face on it has caused the biggest polarisation and I really don’t know why. Personally, I think it’s hilarious and endearing. It’s the band’s first release on Epitaph, a label which I have great respect for, despite their ‘interesting’ choices in recent years. Are Weezer going to be one of their better ones? And is this album destined to be one of those ones everyone loves? Or is this going to be just as divisive as some of the rest?
Opening track and first single Memories sounds just like classic Weezer. This wouldn’t sound out of place on The Blue Album at all. It’s ridiculously singable and wonderfully crafted pop rock. However, Memories holds much more value than just a fantastically catchy tune – it’s partly the story of Weezer’s career, and a very light hearted one at that. I wouldn’t expect anything less of Rivers. It’s got Weezer’s typical sense of humour and joy that personally, I found was lacking from some of their more recent releases. It’s a great opener. That said, it sets a precedent for the rest of the album – is everything going to be this glorious? Ruling Me, thankfully, is no different. My favourite love songs come from two artists – Frank Turner and Weezer. Because no matter how old Weezer get, it’s still reminiscent of that high school romance. It’s heartfelt, destructive and awesome. From the opening riff that sounds like it belongs on a Sega Mega Drive game to the chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Glee cover, I can’t help but smile and bop along merrily in my office chair. Totally wouldn’t be surprised at fan made videos for this one.
Trainwrecks is something of a slow burner – starting out with a few bells and going into a slow, chugging, palm muted affair. It’s the perfect anthem for the overgrown adolescent in all of us, a tale of slackers and heroes. The melody builds up and up throughout the song before bursting out into a fantastic collision of synths and ‘hey hey hey’s and sounds like the best night drive song ever. Unspoken starts out as an acoustic driven lamentation with an upbeat heart, and the inclusion of pan pipes as well as the strings in the background just adds to the Weezer factor – quirky and never entirely serious. Well, until the last verse, when all hell breaks loose and the electric guitars come crashing in, completely shattering everything.
Where’s My Sex? is this album’s Hash Pipe. It makes no sense, but it sounds damn good. This is potentially the heaviest song on the album and much like Unspoken, decides to just mess with everything with the most ridiculous change in tone ever. Good thing I like ridiculous. That’s one thing that I’ve always admired about Weezer – no matter what expectations you have, they will be destroyed within a matter of minutes. Run Away is a relatively slow, piano started but not driven ode to heartbreak. It’s a nice song, but it doesn’t stand out like some of the others. It’s a midway point. Hang On is a much more interesting love story, of unrequited love and space metaphors. Beautifully upbeat and jolly, despite a slight melancholic undertone, it just screams hope, from the ‘thing what sounds like it’s a sitar in the background’ to the quite frankly excellent backing vocals which make the chorus.
Smart Girls starts off sounding like a Postal Service song with its programmed beats and distorted bass… actually, EXACTLY like a Postal Service song, but soon turns into a purely rock fuelled anthem. Although I can’t imagine Rivers as a bad boy. Ever. He’s too cute. Brave New World is excessively rocked out and should have been the finisher for the album. This is a proclamation, this is Weezer entering the new decade, this is straight up rock and roll. This is the most powerful song on the album and possibly my favourite (I’m struggling to choose between this and Ruling Me), and it sounds epic. It’s a shame then that the finisher, Time Flies is a bit droney. It’s not a terrible song, but the choice of excessively distorted acoustic guitar just didn’t fly so well with me. This would have done better placed one up on the tracklist. Nevertheless, it’s a sweet little tribute to Weezer’s career, despite its self-deprecation.
I ended up with the deluxe edition, which has a few extra songs thrown in, including a live cover of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. All My Friends Are Insects is an amusing little distraction which is impossible not to dance to. I Want To Be Something is a great acoustic song that sounds like it’s straight out of a jam session. However, the best bonus song is Represent, which is apparently presented in a ‘rocked out mix’. Whatever, it sounds sweeeeeet. It really is ‘rocked out’.
While I don’t believe that Hurley is going to reach the same heights as The Blue Album, it’s still one of Weezer’s finest efforts in recent years. It combines everything I love about the band in one convenient package. It’s clear that Weezer have figured out what the fans like and this is a combination of all those things, but it still feels homegrown and is a great record in its own right. So Pitchfork can go suck a nut, because dammit, I like Hurley.
3.5 out of 5 high fives!