Some for them, some for us
There's an unspoken pact that many movie stars abide by — it's the one-for-them, one-for-me agreement. That is, make one film for the studio, something that is designed for mass appeal, and then another for the art of the thing. Movie actors can afford to take chances like this because one failed project rarely spells doom for their career. Not so with rock stars. One misfire and it could all be over. The music business, and the tastes of the mainstream audiences that make or break a major rock band's career, are terribly fickle. So Weezer, recording their eighth album, and third in three years, may be trying to execute their own brand of one-for-them, one-for-me with Hurley, their first album for indie stalwart Epitaph. It's a strange album that alternates between chugging pop-proofed rock anthems and wistful balladry with deft precision — it is as though Rivers Cuomo has answered the call from diehard fans to return to the illusory charms of 1996's Pinkerton, but he's only willing to go halfway.
So, this disjointed, fascinating collection of songs makes up the most frustrating and accomplished Weezer album in a decade. One minute, Cuomo is caterwauling about updating "our blogs" on the histrionic "Trainwrecks," and then suddenly he is tender, losing that wounded tenor, unheard since Pinkerton's "Butterfly," on the pretty, simple "Unspoken." And just as quickly, here comes "Where's My Sex," a truly idiotic bit of romper-stomper pop-rock that lifts the power chords and engulfing shout-along chorus of "Hash Pipe," while ditching that song's youthful exuberance. Oh, but do you want hear Cuomo sing a piano lullaby through distorted radio vocal manipulation? No problem, next song, "Run Away" — written more than 10 years ago and rescued from the vaults — opens with just such a conceit. We could go on like this for the entire album. One big, hulking, goofy thing. Then one touching, tuneful expression of pain. On this deluxe edition, even the bonus tracks are masterfully schizophrenic. There's "All My Friends Are Insects," originally from a Yo Gabba Gabba! soundtrack, a straightfaced cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," and a bombastic song recorded for the World Cup called "Represent," presented in its "Rocked Out Mix." Tucked among those relative atrocities, comes "I Want To Be Something." It is among the saddest, truest things Cuomo, who is at times alarmingly in touch with himself, has ever written. But then, that's Hurley all over. One for him. One for us.