Hurley Pitchfork Media record review
|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||September 10, 2010|
Reviewer: Ian Cohen (Pitchfork Media)
Publishing date: September 17, 2010
Hurley is Weezer's first record for Epitaph, a partnership that makes a ton of sense since that label has long been the province of smart-alecky teens who like skateboarding and jacked-up power-pop. And it's doubly fitting because Weezer are getting back to basics here after a few years recording with Lil Wayne and letting the other band members sing. Indeed, there is something of a noticeable "return to form" about Hurley-- their best album since at least, uh, Maladroit. The first single, "Memories", is actually about older Weezer-- sure, the lyrics are sub-Ben Folds nyuks ("playin' hacky sack back when Audioslave was still Rage") and the X Games-style brass fanfare can be a turnoff, but as with 2008 single "Pork and Beans", the autobiographical framework of it gives it a certain charm.
Nobody is going to confuse this with 1990s Weezer-- there are still plenty of oddball collaborations (Michael Cera, Linda Perry) for one thing-- but the lows aren't as low or as frequent as they were in recent years. This is still a Mk. III Weezer album where songs are constructed more like sitcoms: each has a single premise based on a rigid structure and a comforting predictability, and each can be experienced in virtually any order. The listenability is at its lowest when it sounds like the producer was meant to pipe in a laugh track. "Where's My Sex?" is pretty much D.O.A., and Cuomo doesn't do much to revive it, the "big reveal" being the phonic similarities between "sex" and "socks" ("I can't go out without my sex/ It's cold outside and my toes get wet"). "Smart Girls" is laughably half-assed, which is more than I can say about lyrics that lack so badly for any sort of detail that you could simply replace "Smart" in the title with "Dumb" or any other adjective.
It's a shame Hurley is so dependant on such lyrical hijinks, because the one thing Cuomo's never abandoned is a ruthlessly economical approach to songwriting. When Hurley works, it's because Cuomo is a master of form. Even if you're not going to be the one singing along, it's easy to imagine "Ruling Me" offering some sort of platonic radio-rock pleasure, while "Hang On" positions itself as the one where the kids will be waving their iPhones in the air. But when the two instincts clash on "Trainwrecks", you hear a perfectly anthemic chorus get lost in a confused verse where Cuomo doesn't put in enough effort to indicate whether it's a riff on hipsters or on himself.
Which leads to the question that's accompanied pretty much everything Weezer's done since The Green Album: Is this a bad album on its own terms, a rush job that could have worked better were the band not releasing records at this pace? Or was Weezer always a goofy pop band subjected to indie ideals they never believed in? The answers depend more on the listener than anyone else. You can't deny that Cuomo feels no shame and is making exactly the kind of music he wants, and there's ultimately something disarming about that.
— Ian Cohen