Today, Weezer releases their eighth album, Hurley. Past Weezer albums were always associated with a long period of anticipation- news would filter out (usually through the band’s Web site) that the band was recording a new album (along with pictures and song titles, if we were lucky). The band would go back-and-forth with song selection, maybe even take a break during recording. Then, a release date would be announced. Weeks later, the title would be revealed and a few weeks before the album release, the track list would leak out.
Compared to this historical schedule, Weezer’s Hurley is a big surprise.
New Weezer material is always anticipated around the Kingdom, but Hurley just seemed to sneak up on the world. The band first announced the album back in July- not the recording of an album, but the release date. The title and tracklist quickly followed, and now, in what seems like a blink of an eye since the initial announcement, Hurley is here.
And we at the Kingdom are glad.
Hurley is a good album. Actually, it’s better than that. Weezer has released some good albums, and even great ones (Green, Make Believe) in the past decade, but something about Hurley just feels like it fits right in with their two classic 90s-era albums. Hurley is full of surprises.
As I mentioned in my review of Raditude, I’m typically not a fan of musical collaborations. Once again, Rivers Cuomo used a number of co-writers for the album. But thankfully, there are no featured rappers or guest sitarists. The guest musicians are Ryan Adams on Run Away, Michael Cera on Hang On and a few others, musicians who actually fit on a Weezer record.
As for the songs, there are some genuine good, rocking songs on Hurley. The songwriting is good, featuring Rivers at his most poetic. The band sounds good here. Pat is rocking the drums and Rivers’ voice is outstanding, the best it’s been for a long time. As for the songs, standouts include Ruling Me, Unspoken, Hang On and Smart Girls, which was one of the nicest surprises on Hurley. Prior to the album’s release, the Weezer community panned two songs based on their descriptions alone: Smart Girls and Where’s My Sex.
Smart Girls was described as an homage to the Beach Boys (as seen through the lens of The Beatles’ Back in the U.S.S.R.). As for Where’s My Sex, Rivers said in an interview he was inspired to write the song after his three-year old daughter was looking for some missing socks.
Based on those descriptions, it’s easy to see why these songs could potentially be considered clunkers. But the surprising nature of Hurley shows itself once again: these are good songs. Smart Girls is a fun, poppy rocker (but then again, I like Back in the U.S.S.R.) complete with what feels like the only guitar solo on the album. And for all its goofiness, Where’s My Sex is a fun song that’s a decent listen. There are some other decent songs on here too- lead single Memories, Run Away and Brave New World, which is saved by an incredible bridge.
There are two songs, however, that I can’t get behind. Trainwrecks sounds like it lives up to its name-it goes nowhere. And album closer Time Flies is a low-fi pile of meh.
Something else I can’t get behind is the deluxe version of Hurley, which is something of a departure for me. For The Red Album and Raditude, the deluxe editions contain some of those album’s best songs. For Hurley, I have to wonder if deluxe is even worth it. There are four tracks: All My Friends are Insects, Viva La Vida, I Want to Be Something and Represent. All My Friends are Insects and Represent are available elsewhere (and in the case of Represent, the other version is superior). Viva La Vida, aside from being a cover of the most pretentious song ever, is from a live show which has been available for more than a year. The one new tune is I Want to Be Something, a Rivers acoustic demo that should have been on an Alone instead. (UPDATE 9/14: Went to Borders, the same place I’ve gotten each of the last four Weezer albums on their release day to pick up Hurley. Standard was $10. Deluxe was $20. No way was I going to pay an extra $10 for those four songs).
My minor quibbles with the deluxe edition aside, Hurley is still a solid Weezer album that feels like it’s a Weezer album. Even though it’s been a bit of a surprise, I’d like to take my time and enjoy it, but I don’t think that’s likely.
In seven short weeks (November 2),Weezer’s former label will release not one, but two compilations featuring old and new material. I’ve already said plenty about the first, Pinkerton Deluxe. The second, Death to False Metal (original title: Odds and Ends) features ten unreleased tracks from 1993-2008 including a cover of Unbreak My Heart (originally recorded for Make Believe) and unheard Weezer tunes Auto Pilot (from the Red Album sessions) and Trampoline and Everyone (recorded during the summer of ’98- a time period I’m obsessed with).
With all this material on the way, it’s a great time to be a Weezer fan.
Surprises like Hurley just make it better.