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Artist: Weezer
Label: Epitaph
Time: 10 tracks/34 minutes 

I have to admit I was surprised to see a new Weezer release coming so soon on the heels of 2009’s Raditude, a record that I personally hated.  There were a couple of decent songs on Raditude, but overall it was a huge disappointment from their previous work.  Considering that Weezer has changed record labels between the two releases, I suspect that Raditude was a toss-off so the band could fulfill their contract and be free of major label interference. 

The quality of Hurley seems to support this hypothesis.  The songs here are much better, and they employ the standard Weezer sound while dabbling in other sounds and genres to create a great listening experience.  There are plenty of keyboards, strings, and hooks that enhance the songs, taking Rivers Cuomo’s catchy melodies, and making them even better.

When it comes to lyrics, Cuomo is not usually known for his depth.  Many of his songs tend to be about break-ups, unrequited love, and the desire to “get a girl,” but on _Hurley_, that’s only about half the record.  Cuomo, who turned forty this year, is obviously feeling his age with songs like “Memories” and “Time Flies.”  The former is the first track and first single, and it is fun, high speed power pop with the guys from Jackass providing backing vocals on the chorus.  The lyrics show Cuomo feeling nostalgic for Weezer’s earlier days, and as someone who played drums in a few no-name bands during the 90’s, I know exactly the feeling he’s describing.

“Time Flies” is different for Weezer: a foot-stomping acoustic number that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wilco record.  Cuomo acknowledges his aging, but gives the listener hope rather than bringing them down:

Life is moving fast and I'm running out of gas
Time ain't on my side
I'm still in the race and I'm barely keeping pace
But it's worth the ride
Waiting round the corner
There's another sweet surprise

Another standout is “Brave New World” which I suspect is Cuomo’s nod to the fact that the band, now free of its major label contract, has the ability to make music on its own terms.  In addition to this one, there’s “Trainwrecks” where Cuomo acknowledges his own flaws as well as the band’s, but shows a determination to not let those flaws hold him back from what he wants. 

Overall, this is a good record, and if you were disappointed when the band stumbled with _Raditude_, rest assured they have regained their form and turned in an album of sunny, melodic power pop with some catchy hooks.  Everything about this record is great, from the songs to Jorge Garcia’s smiling face on the cover, and there is a deluxe version out there with four additional tracks.  I haven’t heard the other tracks, but if they are of the same quality as the rest of the record, then they would certainly be worth picking up.

By Eric Landfried  11/9/10  


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