Review Summary: The only thing you really need to know about this band is that there is really, really good Weezer...and really, really sh***y Weezer. This is the really, really good stuff.
As if Pinkerton wrecked itself on Raditude, Hurley takes on a darker form as it combines somber lyrics with abstract pop experimentation. The record breaks down like this: It is better than Red and Maladroit; and just about ties Green. Theoretically, this is the record we wanted after the Green Album. After completing a seven record contract, Weezer seems strangely disturbed by their recent work – and have made a conscious effort to return to what they were able to do in Blue, Green and Pinkerton. First, they prepped a tour playing only the songs off of The Blue and Pinkerton albums – the fan favorites. Next, they took a modest approach to discussing their music in interviews. Even guitarist Brian Bell openly admitted that they were mostly writing the music for themselves and their personal friends at home – rather than just listening to what the fans wanted. This shows in albums like Raditude and Red, where fans get their really successful “Pork and Beans” and “I Want You To” smash hits, but then we have “Tripping Down the Highway” and “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” which are far more experimental and strange (though I sort of enjoyed the latter). The band already had a fairly unorthodox method of practicing and recording – in which River Cuomo, the lead singer, took heavy control of the band’s activities. And it also didn’t help that they were pumping out albums almost annually. Even Hurley, just one year after Raditude, feels rushed and incomplete; though it couldn’t come too soon.
Hurley clocks in at about 35 minutes with ten songs. Four or Five of these songs are amazing – even comparable to their older work. Three are okay and two are a bit lousy. “Memories” is the catchy single not unlike “Pork and Beans” and “I Want You To.” “Ruling Me” is a bit immature in its written nature, but it has a chorus that will drop your jaw with a very unusual and risky key change that is common in most metal bands. It’s quite impressive. “Trainwrecks” and “Unspoken” are simple tunes with decent hooks. The former being a tribute song to the band as they battle the opinions of critics and fans. The latter is a much darker song about a relationship – or something like that. The album shines with “Hang On” and “Run Away;” two of my all time favorite Weezer songs to date. “Run Away” is a gritty and masterfully crafted song about running away with a girl. Bearing a strong resemblance to Jeff Lynne’s work, the song is a good example of how simplicity can be effective if you attach the right mood to it – in this case “When I look into the night sky I can see my soul/ I can see little lights flashing at eachother up above/Is it us making love on the Milky Way/Long before we threw it all away” All of this is backed by a fun guitar riff, not unlike that of The Beatles “Let It Be” era. “Hang On” sounds a bit more like an amazing Click-5 song than anything else, but still feels good to hear that familiar classic Weezer sound. Even more tearful is Cuomo’s voice as he sounds like he’s 15 years younger; hitting every note perfectly and delivering the lyrics we might hear on The Green Album and…dare I say…The Blue Album and Pinkerton" “Smart Girls” is fan friendly song that sounds like something off of Raditude. I also absolutely loved Time Flies with its sad country-style mood. All in all, the album is chock full of fun stuff that will surprise estranged fans and critics.
Unfortunately, the record is not without its ***. “Where’s My Sex” feels grossly out of place as a far more goofy than enjoyable song about Rivers Cuomo’s young daughter who cannot yet pronounce “Socks.” She calls them “Sex.” Not good if your daddy is a weird rock star like Cuomo. The song is just ass on all levels. I’m sorry Weezer, but you can’t put a song like “Run Away” on a record and then bully fans with this insult. “Brave New World” is Weezer’s most optimistic song on the album, but it’s tragically skip-able. It just feels like the band was out of ideas for songs at that point and tried to make this one feel more like the better songs on the album. It’s a shame.
I mentioned that Hurley felt incomplete. Well, it is. Yes, a good majority of the record is outstanding – and not just based on how poor their recent work has been - but if feels rushed…and it’s over too soon. Still, I loved this album with all of my heart because even if it’s not Weezer’s best work , it’s among their best work. I don’t like to admit that I didn’t like Make Believe and Raditude, but at least those albums weren’t without a few strong points. Sadly, this album makes us want to forget those records and just convince ourselves (and eachother) that Weezer is just weaker these days, but they can still give us chills with the right blend of rhythm, melody and heart. Look at the photo of Hurley on the album cover. He’s got such a warm expression on his face. That’s how the album makes you feel. You’ll smile and be happy it turned out the way it did.