I’ve got issues with Weezer.
I was at the perfect age when the nerd-pop bliss that was their self-titled, but fan-dubbed ‘Blue’ album dropped, and I was at the perfect apex of angst when they released ‘Pinkerton’. Those two albums still hit me in a very special way. “In the Garage”, “Only in Dreams” and “Good Life” were anthems for different points of my life (which probably says some things I don’t want to think about). But the for pretty much the last decade, Weezer’s turned out nothing but shit album after shit album. The best thing they did was rerelease ‘Blue’ with a bunch of old b-sides and rarities.
At some point in the past, I’d read that Kurt Cobain was studying Rivers Cuomo’s ability to write pop songs, and Rivers was studying Kurt’s ability to do the same. It made me think that really the only thing that separated the two as song writers was the Kurt killed himself before he sunk into the mire of self-parody. Rivers wasn’t so lucky. He’s just been getting creepier and more awkward with each passing year, and his music has never reached the heights it touched in the late 90s.
At this point, I guess I’ve prepped you enough for this bombshell: Weezer’s new record? ‘Hurley’ (yes, named after the LOST character), is actually not shit. In fact, it’s a pretty awesome little power pop record. You can completely hear Rivers continued channeling of the Beach Boys had Phil Spector, but unlike the last three or four or five (I’ve seriously lost track of the number of albums they’ve had) times he’s tried it, this one is lean enough and smart enough to work.
They lyrics are classic Cuomo: simple notebook scribbles put together into a singular thoughts. This simplicity is juxtaposed against layers and layers of guitars and multi-tracked vocals, but some how you never have the feeling that they couldn’t pull this off live. The album opens big with the fuzzed out speaker war that is “Memories”, and then really takes off two tracks later with “Trainwrecks”. The album sort of sags in the middle, but not in the sense of it being bad, just less good than the intro/outro bits. The third to last track, “Smart Girls”? It feels like the nerd summer anthem that everyone has been trying so hard to manufacture in the wake of “California Gurls”. The whole thing clocks in at about 34 minutes, which is short, but also good, because it keeps this revivified Weezer from sticking around too long and messing it all up.
I’m not saying this album is going to save the world, change the world or even make the world glance in its general direction. All I’m saying is that Weezer’s finally made another good album after ten years of shit. And that’s something that’s good to hear.
Take a listen to Trainwrecks.
Oh, just a note – stay the hell away from the Deluxe Edition of the album unless you like hearing Weezer cover Coldplay (didn’t think so).