Thursday, September 09, 2010

Weezer - Hurley (Epitaph)

Tell you what, you get great value for money as a Weezer fan. None of these extended ‘tween-album limbo periods where the band is taking time out for “a swim in Lake Me” or whatever Californian spiel is peddled round the industry these days. Oh no, not with Weezer.

Releasing three albums across three successive years makes Hurley their third LP in little more than a 24-month period. So the work ethic is there; the capability, as demonstrated by albums one through seven, is there; and the unique balance of adorkable affability and genuine virtuosity, as is a given with Weezer, is there. But does eighth album Hurley keep the momentum going, or does it inadvertently serve as an advert for those aforementioned rest periods?

Hurley, so named for the gigantic face of Jorge Garcia grinning out from the cover artwork, is already off to a bad start via its Lost association. Granted, it’s merely a visual tool, but it’s difficult not to spit undiluted venom at anything related to that shitshower of a finale. Luckily, the content bears no relation, though there’s a worrying likelihood that fans might hold back some venom for the music itself.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what Weezer are trying to achieve with Hurley. No dangerous forays outside the comfort zone a la Raditude; yet, simultaneously, it doesn’t hold many parallels with the college rock magnificence of earlier Weezer. The faintly-discordant buzz of Memories gives away the farm a tad, all busy production and big ideas, while Where’s My Sex is so weird and clumsy it’s like a musical adaptation of watching an ITV1 drama with the whole family when an unexpected sex scene pops up.
But Weezer on a bad day nonetheless trumps most other bands’ career pinnacles, and there’s still plenty on Hurley to get excited about – the precise metal leanings of Ruling Me or the effortless, understated charm pouring out of Time Flies. It’s just that for a band of this standing, one would expect an entire album of such moments, rather than sporadically dotted throughout.
If there’s one thing last year’s fan-splitting album Raditude taught us, it’s to not judge Weezer too quickly. Dismissed fairly speedily as a gimmick-laden, cumbersome, aural mid-life crisis, and yet, twelve months on, it’s an agreeable, highly-listenable (if perhaps irony-heavy) Weezer near-classic. So check back next September where we’ll no doubt have declared Hurley the album of the decade. Until then, grit your teeth and try your damndest to find its good side – it is in there somewhere.

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