It’s been a long time since we’ve heard Rivers Cuomo write songs because he wants to, not because he has to. The sentiment in Hurley is the most genuine we’ve seen from Weezer in almost a decade and is easily the closest they’ve been to emulating The Blue Album since Pinkerton. Yet it is clear that anyone who hopes that Weezer will someday release another Blue Album will most likely be waiting for a long time. Hurley is however, not without moments that sound as if they crystallized sometime in 1994. The riff heavy textures of “Ruling Me” are momentary to its throwback choruses and light synthesizer touches. Small in comparison to the song’s grandiose appeal, it comes across as falling somewhere in between “My Name is Jonas” and “No One Else”.
The delicate, more textured songwriting that has seemingly eluded Cuomo for some time resurfaces in the acoustic melodrama of “Unspoken” as it quietly unfolds to a very “Say It Ain’t So”-like crescendo. Having cornered the market of geeky rock humor, “Smart Girls” is a vibrant entry into the canon. With its plucky couplets (rhyming Tatiana with Donna for example) and synthesizer fuelled guitar melodies, it’s another showcase of simple authenticity done well.
It is frustrating however, that we get “Where’s My Sex?” Sounding painfully like a Make Believe cut, its cheesy disposition and woeful lyrical exercise is a quick reminder that when Weezer wants to be bad, they’re really bad. “Run Away” and “Hang On” are quick to remedy this malaise, once again employing more layered songwriting and a potency that leaves you wondering why it can’t be like this all the time.
The deluxe edition of the album gives you a pretty great cover of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, a reminder that Weezer’s tongue-in-cheek bravado is not lost amongst the volume of material they’ve written in the past 15 years. Hurley is such an improvement over Raditude that it’s an uneasy comfort. It isn’t without its flaws, and “Memories” is still a God-awful song, but it goes a long way in making us all forget the last five years. In “Trainwrecks”, Cuomo sings “someday we’ll cut our critics down to size” and you get the feeling that for the first time in years, he’s right.