Only one year after the poppy and collaboration heavy Raditude, Weezer’s new album Hurley is here and ready to rock your socks off. Here’s my track by track analysis:
Despite an awkward and out of place introduction, Memories kicks off the eigth Weezer album in full force. Chugging guitars and bass back up a new Rivers Cuomo. Much like Pat Wilson’s drumming on Maladroit, Rivers’ voice is the star here. He’s reaching to new heights, screaming, adopting vocal personas, and just taking it to the next level. Memories is the best example of the overall theme of the album: raw, quick, poppy, and something new for the ever changing band.
Jumping ever so close to Raditude’s pop territory, Ruling Me is another probable singalong hit single for Weezer. The beautiful moment in this song for me is how the chorus just leaps in out of nowhere and encourages you to sing along. Overall, it’s not one of the best songs on the album but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible.
Easily one of the best songs on Hurley, Trainwrecks is a mix of excellent chug-along guitar with majestic vocals from Cuomo. The melody and production are strong, joining forces to create an emotional masterpiece. Listen to this song and you’ll understand just why I’ve loved this band for almost 20 years.
The verses of Unspoken have a few cringe worthy moments. Cuomo’s vocals feel strained and weak, giving him his worst performance on the album. Wait a second, what’s going on with that vocal breakdown? I hear feedback?!?!?!? SAVED. The end of Unspoken returns us to a familiar area with Weezer songs: triumphant chorus, excellent vocals, huge guitars. Now only if there was something we could do about the production of the first few minutes of the song…
Where’s My Sex?
While the idea of Cuomo’s daughter asking “where’s my sex?” instead of “where’s my sox?” is a funny story for him to tell, it really didn’t strike me as great song material. Fearing a We Are All On Drugs PART II, I braced for the worst. Where’s My Sex is a pretty solid rock tune with a great verse riff standing out over the rest of the song. The band loses me a bit in the pseudo-Dreamin’-esque breakdown mid song (due to poor execution, it just comes out of nowhere and doesn’t sound all that great), but in the end we’re saved by the almighty guitar riff. Hurley rock at its finest.
Production wise, this song is a bold and daring move for Weezer. Starting off with piano and a 78rpm scratchy vinyl vocal, the instrumentation blends perfectly with Cuomo’s strong voice to give us one of the most rewarding Weezer songs to date. The song sounds so big and does it without over the top production.
This song marks the start of what I’d like to call Weezer’s brief lapse into Andrew WK’s territory. Hang On is a loud guitar and synth driven pop song with an infectious chorus and has a vibe (musically, not vocally) to Andrew WK’s style. While I dig WK, Weezer’s foray into this style sounds a bit forced and overly poppy like it is trying to be squished onto the radio. The weakest track on Hurley.
The second Andrew WK-esque song on the album makes up for Hang On and delivers a quick, fun, song with some over the top (and pretty goofy) lyrics. I would’ve laughed this one off a few years ago if Weezer had released it, but today I’m cranky Smart Girls and its disco beat as I drive down the highway in my 2008 Chevy Aveo.
Brave New World
I’m still on the fence about this tune. Perhaps I haven’t listened to it as closely as I should, but Brave New World is a unique song that really doesn’t take me anywhere. I’m not saying that it’s a bad song, it’s just…well, there. Weezer songs usually take me to new heights and this one just sort of goes in one ear and out the other.
A simple folk song, Time Flies finds Weezer at their most experimental on the album. Featuring what sounds like a steady bass drums, guitars, and a mandolin-esque lead guitar part, Time Flies is reminiscent of the 2008 Hootenany performances Weezer would perform with their fans. A great way to end the album although it feels a bit abrupt. Which leads me to my conclusion…
Hurley feels quick, not in a forced way, but in a “hey I’m excited about these songs so let’s record them and put them out into the world” kind of way. This leads to some ups and downs on the album, but overall Hurley is a pretty raw and rockin’ album that finds the band doing what they do best: capturing who they are in the moment and refusing to look back. Hurley won’t blow your brains out, but does every album by Weezer have to do that? No. I’ve gotten over my “Blue and Pinkerton are the best Weezer albums and I won’t like anything else” phase and instead accepted the band as a tour de force in modern music, a pop band who will keep on keepin’ on (in the words of Joe Dirt) and provide the fans with a wealth of good music.