I was late getting to the "Lost" party --gotta confess, being strung along week after week by smoke monsters, time shifts, and glorified soap opera romantic triangles never have been my things -- but like many people, I eventually got sucked in by reruns when there was nothing else to watch, and after that I was eager to visit the island for every new episode through the last two years of the show's celebrated run. Also like many viewers, I found that a primary joy of watching was Hurley's "Dude" count: keeping tally of how many times in each episode the character portrayed by that incredibly sexy actor Jorge Garcia would utter his catchphrase. (This chart of Hurley's DPE -- Dudes Per Episode -- puts his all-time high at 17 in episode 10 of season 3, and his grand total throughout the show at 328.)
Granted, as many people probably hated Hurley's dude-ing as got a kick out of it, and here's the connection I see with Weezer in the new millennium. The band that gave us the classic and timeless debut in 1994 and the enduring proto-emo cult favorite "Pinkerton" in 1996 is long gone, and Rivers Cuomo is never going back to either incarnation. Get over it. For the last decade, Cuomo instead has been an ever-curious, ever-evolving, ever-playful pop songwriter, one of the best of his generation, and instead of the musically and thematically satisfying wholes of those first two albums, he and Weezer have given us collections of pop songs -- some of them hits, some of them misses; some instant classics, and some failed experiments so bad you'd swear they must be parodies. Because the highs have been so high -- "Can't Stop Partying," "Heart Songs," "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" -- the lows really haven't bothered me, or at least have been easily ignored (and here I'm thinking of "Hash Pipe," "Beverly Hills," and other made-for-MTV toss-offs). That's what iPod playlists are for, right?
On Weezer's eighth studio album, I find another welcome batch of prime Cuomo postmodern pop gems, chief among them "Memories," the latest installment of his autobiographical account of falling in love with music; "Where's My Sex?," which actually is an indelibly catchy song about socks (and, I believe, a goof on all those fans who pine for him to return to the painful plumbing of his sexual confusions on "Pinkerton"); "Smart Girls" a tune the Beach Boys could have written if they'd thought that being brainy was cooler than being a surfer, and "Trainwrecks," which, believe it or not, is the perfect communion of Weezer and KISS and Bon Jovi tunesmith Desmond Childs, with whom Cuomo wrote the song.
Yes, there also are some stinkers -- "Hang On" and "Unspoken" top that list -- and you knew there would be. But really, dude, why let those spoil the moments that do work? Put those together with your favorites from the preceding five albums, and you'll finally have another collection as good as "The Blue Album" or "Pinkerton."
Weezer, "Hurley" (Epitaph) Rating: 3/4