Weezer Gets Lost With “Hurley”

Photo Courtesy of Epitaph Records

I’ve been a big Weezer fan for a long time now. And, like many others I know, I’ve been waiting for something from them that lives up to their first two albums. It seems as if something quite that amazing will never happen, but Weezer’s latest album, “Hurley,” is a ray of hope for Weezer fans.

Weezer’s first two records, the self-titled “Blue Album” and “Pinkerton,” were a fantastic balance of quirky pop and alternative rock. However, Rivers Cuomo and his crew seem to have been unable to completely recapture that balance, which was the true greatness of Weezer. Nevertheless, “Hurley” isn’t all bad. For one, the cover is a big picture of Jorge Garcia’s beaming face. That’s got to be a plus for some.

Amidst Weezer’s newer sound shine elements of their older magic. The record opens with “Memories,” also the first single. The song’s verses have catchy, aggressive vocals that are undoubtedly Weezer. The chorus, however, which bursts into a synth-backed hook that makes the song sound reminiscent of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” will definitely make or break the song for a lot of people. The quick 10-second breakdown harkens back to the “Pinkerton” days and is one of the high points on the album. However, it’s only 10 seconds.

“Ruling Me” is dripping with the bubble gum pop found throughout Weezer’s “Green Album.” It’s upbeat and deals with ocular nerves doing weird things when they’re exposed to beautiful women. Basically, if you liked “Green Album,” you’ll like “Ruling Me.”

“Trainwrecks” has a “Perfect Situation” (from Weezer’s 2007 “Make Believe”) vibe. They both share that grand, almost epic, feeling. Even though it’s definitely “new” Weezer, “Perfect Situation” was a decent song, and this one is too.

The next song, “Unspoken,” is quite possibly the best on the album. The mainly acoustic song has an almost earthy vibe with the backing recorder/flute and shakers. However, the song flips around once the drums and roaring guitars come in. The melody is catchy and greatly adds to the interesting feel of the song.

“Where’s My Sex?” can’t help but force reminders of “Pinkerton’s” “Tired of Sex.” Unfortunately, the song is nowhere near as good as “Tired of Sex.” The only thing it really manages to match up to is the lyrics, which are pretty inventive.

“Run Away” is another one of the album’s best. The composition and melodies are vaguely reminiscent of “Pinkerton” but, again, the song isn’t quite up to par with the band’s best. The jangly guitars on the song are noticeably cleaner than the majority of Weezer’s work, which adds a lighter quality to the song, and separates it from a lot of the band’s catalog. Like “Memories,” the song has a great breakdown, but it still doesn’t manage to come together to recreate the old-school Weezer magic.

One of the cooler aspects of “Hang On” is that it features Michael Cera. Other than that, it’s set apart from the others because it sounds like a cross between The New Pornographers and Weezer. This is another interesting twist on the album.

“Smart Girls” is an example of the awkward moments of “new” Weezer. While the subject matter, wanting girls who are better than you, is suitably Weezer, the song has an almost electronic feel. Though it’s catchy, some parts of songs like these have a tendency to draw a dividing line in the Weezer fan base.

“Brave New World” is yet another Weezer conundrum. It has an extremely catchy hook, an upbeat tempo, and classic Weezer elements, but it somehow fails to hit the exact spot to make it great.

Co-written with country star Mac Davis, the album closer “Time Flies” is a mock lo-fi, upbeat, folksy little ditty. It’s catchy and nostalgic, a fitting end to an album. Simply put, it’s a decent and complete song and one of the more likeable on the album.

Compared to Weezer’s post 2001 catalog, “Hurley” is a strong album, possibly even the best since then. The band seems to have somewhat recalled its early days, and some of the songs on the album even sound excitingly close to “Pinkerton.” But the record still leaves a lot to be desired.

If you want more Weezer because of their newer music, then “Hurley” will oblige you. Otherwise, us fan boys will have to return to waiting.