Sound — 8
There's been an elephant in the room for geek overlords Weezer for some time - will there be another album as emotionally honest as 1996's high point "Pinkerton"? And with 2009's "Raditude" recieving a mauling from both fans and critics alike, Rivers Cuomo promised Hurley to be a "raw, unpolished rock record." And, partly, he's right. The two openers, "Memories" and "Ruling Me", are both musically pitched between the heavy thump of 2002's "Maladroit" and the pop of "Raditude", and are, alas, far too polished to make it old school Weezer. Thankfully, though, as soon as "Trainwrecks" roars into view, the album becomes their most consistent since "Maladroit". Angry guitars, screechy vocals and thumping choruses are firmly back on the menu. The finest track, "Unspoken", begins as a tender acoustic lament similar to "Butterfly", before revving into an agitated rocker reminiscent of "Say It Ain't So". Weezer are connecting to their past, and in such a convincing way, and the hardcore riffs of "Run Away" and "Hang On" offer plenty to provide a smile to any exasperated Weezer fan. The pounding "Where's My Sex" is also a highlight which is close to a contemporary version of the "Blue Album".
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically, Cuomo finally offers a slightly more personal approach to 'Hurley', a trick he hasn't applied since "Perfect Situation". "Run Away" is one of the tracks close to the soul-searching of "Pinkerton", as does the Ryan Adams co-write "Unspoken". Lines such as "and if you take this away from me / I'll never forgive you" and "over and over / We swore it was over" sound considerably more characteristic of Cuomo as opposed to "I can't stop partying". Alas, Cuomo does indulge in his trademark woeful vignettes from time to time, though these are usually kept for "Smart Girls". "Where's My Sex" provides comic relief a la "The Sweater Song", in which Cuomo simply changes the word 'socks' for 'sex', creating a frustrated diatribe of sexual frustration, which cleverly changes tack halfway through into a snotty punk anthem.
Overall Impression — 8
"Hurley" is indeed a full on rock record from start to finish, and though not as raw as Cuomo would have you believe, it's still a huge relief to hear them turn up the amps and channel the rocky spirit of "The Green Album" and "Maladroit", the two albums this LP best resemble. "Unspoken" and "Run Away" are both the highlights here, both sounding like Weezer offcuts from the '90s, which, as we know, is certainly no bad thing. Though not as good as their first 3 albums, it's certainly their best work in nearly a decade, and let's just hope the next album plays down the polish even further. No Lil Wayne, either. (c) sam lambeth 2010.