Hurley by Weezer
A jumble of untimely, arbitrary bilge and mall-music
With Weezer’s eighth studio album, Hurley — following too closely on the heels of last November’s Raditude to be called hotly, or really in any way, anticipated — singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo casts off the "songwriter” and "guitarist" (and arguably even the "singer") appellations by producing a power chord crazy, auto-tune saturated, astronomically overproduced, synth-addled pop album for which the band has collaborated with not one but six professional mega-hit makers: Desmond Child (KISS’ "I Was Made for Lovin’ You"), Greg Wells (Katy Perry’s "Ur So Gay"), Rick Nowels (Belinda Carlisle’s "Heaven is a Place on Earth"), Jimmy Harry, Linda Perry (P!nk’s "Get the Party Started") and, of course, every caffeinated fourteen-year-old’s hero, Mac David (Elvis Presley’s "In the Ghetto") as well as an additional three outside collaborators in Dan Wilson, singer-songwriter of late 90s one-hit wonders Semisonic (“Closing Time"), Ryan Adams and former No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. Now, the reason I bothered to assemble that list is I think it tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Hurley: that it’s a jumble of untimely, arbitrary bilge and mall-music.
Following the mediocre opening sequence of "Memories" — featuring another embarrassing Rivers-rap and an attempt at topicality (“back when Audioslave was still the rage") — the dorky-sounding synths of "Ruling Me" and the earnest, desperate pandering of "Trainwrecks" comes "Unspoken": a fairly decent McCartney-esque pop song, but one that finds Rivers once more “bravely” venturing outside of his own natural vocal range with bloodcurdlingly unlistenable results — how is this the one song in which he uses no pitch-correction? Rounding out the first half of the mercifully brief album: in the tradition of "We Are All On Drugs," "Where’s My Sex?" is another silly novelty song based around puns.
The band has turned the idea of not taking yourself too seriously into a sort of deranged free-spirited cult mania, the result being the musical equivalent of life on a hippie commune: grown men in multicolored muʻumuʻus reverting to prelapsarian states of childlike innocence, running around, flailing their limbs, shouting at clouds, rolling in mud, giggling, blowing raspberries and, least of all, writing songs. Cuomo is no longer a sexually tormented, nerdy white male version of Prince: he’s some kind of pampered pop “divo."
"Run Away" is one of the only satisfying tracks on the album, marking a return to the Todd Rundgren-inspired power-pop of Weezer’s first eighty-two albums; "Hang On" is mildly catchy but who cares, and I’m not even a woman but "Smart Girls" offends me with its idiotic sexism (“Where did all these smart girls come from?”) Free spirit!