Adding to their oeuvre of novel album covers, Weezer’s latest features a picture of actor Jorge Garcia. This mysterious cover boy, for those unfamiliar, played a character named Hurley (Light bulb- the album title!) on “Lost.” An ostensibly desultory concept for a Weezer album, the band’s Grand Marshall, Rivers Cuomo, explains that he just really loved the photo of Garcia and its “amazing vibe.” Okay then. The good news is that Hurley shares none of the arbitrariness of its cover.
Weezer’s fans are amongst rock’s most divided. On one side of the debate, we have the sentimentalists, the insatiable fans who cherish the days when Matt Sharp was bassist and bitch about and loathe anything else Weezer has put out since Pinkerton or the Green Album. These are the fans that inevitably and forever compare anything Weezer releases to the Blue Album. Then, there are the stubborn fans who stick with the foursome no matter what they put out. These are the fans that justify misdirections like “Can’t Stop Partying” as artistic evolution. Every Weezer fan lying in one of those two categories, I will try to be as impartial as possible (and I promise to abstain from Blue Album comparisons).
Cuomo, Brian Bell, Scott Shriner and Pat Wilson hammer out their third release in barely more than two years – their eighth album to date – and in typical Weezer fashion, Hurley is short and sweet. With song titles like “Memories,” “Run Away,” and “Time Flies,” Weezer seems quite nostalgic. “Pissing in plastic cups before we went on stage/ Playing hackey-sack back when Audioslave were still Rage,” Cuomo sings on the energetic opener, “Memories.” He continues bluntly, “Memories make me want to go back there, back there.” The emo-permeated “Trainwrecks” recalls the days of “digging through the couch for cash.” On the fragile “Run Away,” Cuomo laments parting ways with a good friend, though his point is slightly marred by some clumsy, elementary lyrics: “Sometimes I wish I was a house at the end of the block/ You could smash all my windows with the throw of a rock.”
In the midst of this sentimentality thrives a polarizing theme. “Unspoken,” a delightful acoustic ballad complete with strings and a flute, is a bitter statement against an anonymous person from his past. A few tracks later, Cuomo seems reconciled and ready for the future on “Hang On.” During “Brave New World,” Cuomo sings, “We’d hate to leave our shelter/ But there’s so much waiting out there/ If only we’d open our eyes and see/ This is the dawning of a brave new world/ I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’ll figure it out.” And on the psych-folk closer, “Time Flies,” Cuomo boasts that he’s had a good run. This acceptance and welcoming of the future is a new attitude we’re witnessing in Weezer, and it’s nice to see an album hitting an emotional depth that’s been outshined by material banalities for the past few albums.
“Where’s My Sex,” inspired by Cuomo’s daughter’s mispronunciation of “Where’s my socks,” is a little more on par with the goofy, fratboy sound Weezer has been accustomed to the past few years. “Smart Girl” showcases Weezer’s poppier side, and both songs will please newbie fans without alienating Blue Album diehards. But by this point, we’ve come to expect nothing new from Weezer. Aesthetically, Hurley is a return to the vacuum-cleaner-buzzing, stadium-stuffing power-chords and simple emotion of the Green Album. Thus, old-school fans will love Hurley because it’s the album that should’ve come after the Green Album, and current fans will love it because it’s the album that should come after Raditude. This is the Weezer we haven’t known for a while, and is a great way to start the new decade.
by Jory Spadea