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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Weezer’s “Hurley” as lovable as original

Weezer's eighth studio album, “Hurley,” features the titular “Lost” character on its cover. Photo courtesy Epitaph Records.

If you’ve been searching through lists of new music and come upon a picture of “Lost’s” Hurley, aka Jorge Garcia, don’t worry: You haven’t wandered into the DVDs. You’ve just stumbled upon “Hurley,” the eighth and newest album from alternative rockers Weezer.

While naming an album after a TV character and slapping his face on the cover might seem odd for most bands, Weezer isn’t most bands. After all, they’ve put out three self-titled albums, so “Hurley” isn’t a big stretch for them.

Formed in 1992, Weezer and frontman Rivers Cuomo have been alternative rock mainstays ever since they released “Pinkerton” in 1996. The album was a commercial failure, but has since risen to cult status.

Since “Pinkerton,” though, Weezer’s sound has fluctuated according to the whims of Cuomo, occasionally to the dislike of fans. “Hurley,” though, seems to indicate that the band may be heading back to basics.

Some of the album’s songs, like “Hang On,” which features the somewhat-surprising backup vocals and guitar of actor Michael Cera, and “Unspoken” and “Time Flies,” bring an indie rock vibe to the album. But then there are tracks like “Ruling Me” and “Where’s My Sex?,” which mark a much-appreciated return to the band’s alternative roots.

“Trainwreck,” the album’s third song, is the most emotional, written after Cuomo was in a bus crash last December. As Cuomo sings, “We fall first then we rise/We are trainwrecks/It’s the story of our lives” and “Someday we’ll cut our critics down to size,” it’s clear the song is also about the band’s growth and recovery from the negative response of fans and reviewers to prior albums.

Regardless of the popularity of past records, the new album is a pure anthem for those who believe in the general themes of love, moving on to bigger things, and being sure not to waste the time we’re given.  Its base is what Weezer is best known for — alternative rock — but the album builds off of that, incorporating the influences of other bands and genres to augment their sound.

“Smart Girls,” for example, flashes back to the surf- and sun-filled days of the Beach Boys but never leads us away from modern rock. Though it’s full of ’50s-style with lyrics like “Debbie, Donna, Tatiana/ Don’t you know you make me lose my mind?,” you’re still able to hear the originality that made Weezer a household name.

Cuomo’s known as a prolific songwriter, and when the band puts out deluxe editions, they’re usually considered something to pick up.

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times. None of “Hurley’s” bonus tracks are worth the extra cost, especially the band’s off-pitch cover of Coldplay’s “Vida la Vida.”

But if you stick to the basics, “Hurley” is a welcome return to form for Weezer.

So if Garcia’s smiling face doesn’t grab your attention, know this: Weezer has come back full circle. Their first single, “Memories” says it best: “All the memories, how can we make it back there, back there/I want be there again.”

They certainly are.

By Annie Bolger, Special to the Tribune

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