Anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows that Weezer is one of favorite bands. Number 4 to be exact. Maybe I’ll get around to another top 100 bands list one of these days. I wrote one down my junior year of high school. Weezer was 9 on that list I believe. Things change. I love everything about this band, especially Rivers Cuomo at the front of it. But even I’m not oblivious to that streak of four albums in the 2000s that were trainwrecks. Notice how I didn’t separate those words. If you gave it a chance, you may have a clue where this is going.
I LIKE HURLEY.
There. I said it,
To be more precise, I like half of Hurley.
I am in no way justifying the mid-to-late 2000s Weezer atrocities. This is as controversial as it is going to get. Raditude is still absolute garbage. I will never say anything good about “Beverly Hills”. Strike me dead, white girls.
Maybe “like” isn’t the best word to use here. I’m not placing this album any higher than it deserves to be placed. If I were to rank the nine studio albums, which you know I will at some point, I’d put this one at number six out of nine. It’s still not awesome, but it’s worth giving a second chance. It’s a decent album.
Or for most people, a first chance. I’m not criticizing people who dumped Weezer after the bloody mess that was Raditude, I think most people did. The first time I even heard “Memories”, the lead single from Hurley, was when I saw Jackass 3D at the movies. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but recently I’ve come to think more of it. Most people didn’t even bother to listen to this album because of its predecessor, given how close they were released relatively to one another (less than a year apart). I also wasn’t too fond of seeing Rivers dancing around on stage with nothing but a microphone during this time period. Practically naked. A guitar belongs in that man’s hands at all times. Not even just when they’re performing. Get back on the drums Pat Wilson, that’s where you belong. (Hence the pre-chorus of “Back to the Shack”.)
It’s completely understandable how most people didn’t give this album a chance. For anyone who’s not a cog in the pop machine that jumped on after they heard… BEVERLY F***ING HILLS, Raditude was something like a third chance. Three strikes sounds fair, right? Right. Well I guess Hurley was just a decent album that came out at the wrong time.
But this album has actually got some pretty good tracks on it. I’m still not sure how I feel about collaborations, studio musicians, and “professional songwriters”. When I say “collaborations”, I mean either songwriting collaborations (not sure how much input actually gets you one of those), or the kind that Weezer did on Raditude. And by that I mean, “Can’t Stop Partying”, which featured Lil Wayne. Might be one of the few songs worse than BEVERLY F***ING HILLS. For Hurley, Weezer exits the mediocrity turnpike into a better land. The songwriting collaborations on here are more legitimate (most of them). I will say it’s kind of disappointing that only two tracks were solely credited to Rivers, those being “Memories” and “Unspoken”.
I already stated that I like “Memories”, so I’ll move on to some other notable tracks.
First up is actually the second track right after “Memories”. It’s called “Ruling Me”. As someone who researches every band I’ve ever listened to, I immediately recognized the name of the other songwriter on this one, Dan Wilson.
Has age defied your eyes? How about this one:
Ah, yes! That’s better.
Dan Wilson, my man! Don’t even try to say “Closing Time” isn’t an absolutely phenomenal song, and he’s also credited with four tracks that appear on Jason Mraz albums prior to the release of Hurley. He also wrote Grammy-winning tracks for Adele and Dixie Chicks.
Now you may say that just because he’s done good work before doesn’t mean this will be good. Isn’t that what this post is pretty much about? After all, the three tracks that Josh Freese, accomplished contributor to Nine Inch Nails, Guns ‘N’ Roses and The Offspring, contributed drums to on Raditude were trainwrecks (that reference will continue). But you can also be the judge. If you ask me, what I just said makes it notable right off the bat. Pat is on the drums! And you can tell, the drums are phenomenal. The guitars sound great from front-to-back, and the vocal harmonies are also great. Lyrically, it’s a girl song, the same type of song that Rivers has built a career on. A talent that he clearly lost touch with after Maladroit (maybe even earlier). That’s why Dan Wilson was brought in, and that’s why this song works.
Now here’s the reference I’ve been making. The third track is called “Trainwrecks”, essentially having a Nevermind-esque impact on my spelling. This song is the flower in the middle of the dump described by Michael Scott in that episode of The Office, I’m almost positive it was the season six episode titled “New Leads” or “The Leads” or something about leads. I know my stuff.
But the track truly is something to behold. Scott Shriner’s bass lays an excellent foundation, and every note of every instrument is exactly where it needs to be. I wish this track was a mainstream, chart-topping single. God knows they’ve had other songs (song) that have been very undeserving of that accolade (You know what I’m referring to.) Although I’d like to keep it to myself for now. That is until this blog goes international, then everyone will know it.
The next track, “Unspoken”, is also very well done. It’s good to know that the two songs that Rivers wrote on his own are pretty good. It’s an exquisite, acoustic rock ballad that builds up. It’s not joined by thunderous guitars or drums until the end, but first by flutes and string instruments. When the lightning does strike, it strikes hard, and right with the final recital of the track’s chorus. It’s amazing. And again, more vocal harmonies.
But right about there is where Hurley loses me. The fifth track, “Where’s My Sex”, isn’t what it appears to be. It’s actually a joke song about how Rivers’ daughter would say “sex” instead of “socks”. So when she’d lose her socks, she’d say, “Where’s my sex?” Ha ha. Instrumentally, not bad. Lyrically, atrocious. This track sets the tone for the rest of the album, which contains mostly songs that either sound the same or aren’t anything special. Just bland tracks that don’t stick out much. The second single, “Hang On”, isn’t that bad either. Rick Nowels, notable for either production, songwriting or studio work with Lana Del Rey, Cee Lo Green, New Radicals and Jason Mraz cowrote the track. But it just sounds plain. Like it was made with a blueprint or a template. “Brave New World” is probably the best of what’s left.
That is unless you include the deluxe edition bonus disc, which contains the catchy tracks “I Want To Be Something” and “Represent”. If you can get past the awful first track, “All My Friends Are Insects”, which literally is from an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, and the abysmal cover of Coldplay’s anthemic “Viva La Vida”, the deluxe edition is almost worth it. I kind of wish they’d re-release Hurley, get rid of the four tracks that I didn’t mention from the original 10-track disc, and put the two notable bonus tracks on it. Would instantly become worth it.
But now you may notice how I gave the “notable” certification to half the album. If half the tracks are good, shouldn’t the album be dignified as such? And maybe that’s true for some artists; if Nickelback released an album and I generally liked half of it, I’d consider it to be a monumental success. But for a band like Weezer, half just isn’t good enough. I haven’t brought up Pinkerton or The Blue Album yet, and the only reason I am now is because I need to point out that Weezer have two absolutely, 100% perfect albums in their catalogue. A lot of bands can say they have one, but not many can say they have two. As much as I’m against comparing everything they release to these crowned jewels, it’s almost impossible not to. Especially when they release something as enraging as Raditude, hell even throw The Red Album and Make Believe into this, the follow-up had to be something out of this world. And it wasn’t. They didn’t need to rush this album the way they did. Like I said earlier, 11 months. You can tell it’s rushed from the album cover and title. Like, seriously? There was nothing better you could’ve come up with? The photo wasn’t even taken for the album cover, the album cover was hastily taken from the photo. It happened backstage at Lopez Tonight.
Zoom in on Jorge Garcia’s head. Look familiar? It’s because they literally cropped this picture.
So all in all, there are some hidden gems on this albums. They brought in the right people to do songwriting collaborations with this time around. Pat stayed on the drums, and Lil Wayne was not let in to the studio. But the album didn’t meet the larger-than-life expectations of Weezer albums. It was rushed, and it shouldn’t have been. For most of the tracks I didn’t like or that I’d skip, none of them were the worst song I’d ever heard. Had they waited another year to polish this album up a little, it may have been received much better than it was, by fans, critics, and music consumers.
But for me personally, writing this a little more than four years after it was released, I wouldn’t change a thing. By that I mean I wouldn’t have waited, because who knows how that would have interrupted the timeline of Weezer. In the last paragraph, I said that Weezer albums are expected to be larger than life. And about three months ago, one was released that was larger-than-life; an album that hit home for me on a personal level, and for the rest of the fans that stuck with Weezer. So if those albums are the 500-yard, shit-filled pipe we had to crawl through (that’s my second reference to that movie in two weeks) to get the album that I (and NPR Music) just named album of the year, then I’m fine with that.
So I guess I’ll end with a quote from a band that has nothing to do with Weezer:
“If I had a chance for another try,
I wouldn’t change a thing
it’s made me all who I am inside”
Side note: If anyone who reads this blog was a complete fanboy hipster, they’d tell me that Angels & Airwaves had everything to do with Weezer. They’d say something like, “Well actually, Weezer was one of the main pop-punk influences that, as the eccentric, quirky weirdos they were, inspired people like Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge to start a band with that type of sound. And with the formation and dissolution of Blink-182, Angels & Airwaves would not have existed because Tom Delonge would not have had the status and funds he needed to start a band as ambitious as Angels & Airwaves.” Something along those lines.
Side note 2: Final word count: 1930.