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Run Away

Seeing how I did the knee-jerk reaction thing for one of Hurley’s lesser tracks (the unfortunate first single/opener, “Memories”), I thought I’d do something similar for one of the new album’s best. (Two relevant parentheticals, first: though I still deem it a negligible tune, “Memories” does fare a bit better in the context of the record than as a standalone. Also, while I discussed “Memories” within the span of a couple listens/minutes, I’ve given this one a little more time and space to dry.)

The song is the first on Side Two: “Run Away.” As with other recent victories like “Pig,” “Run Over By a Truck,” and “The Underdogs,” this song doesn’t merely succeed, but does so in a way I could’ve scantly imagined hearing from Weezer (as an album track rather than an outtake, no less!). I hear, compacted into its concise few minutes, very clear traces of subterranean ‘90s heroes like Daniel Johnston, Guided By Voices, Built to Spill, and the like-minded – implemented with an impressively shifting palette that’s rare in Rivers Cuomo’s work (the closest analog I can think of is “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” and that’s more of a patchwork exercise in genre distinctions than a song, per se). The lyrics seem a bit weak on paper but work nicely in context (a more typically Cuomo trait), fitting the bill for a good description others have used for Hurley’s lyric sheet: like a slightly more poetic, far more successful Make Believe (lots of melodramatics, here). The music takes a slight turn for the predictable when Cuomo very self-consciously channels the Pinkerton aesthetic in the bridge (kinda like how that Pet Sounds percussion seems to turn up on a song or two of every Brian Wilson album, now), but he pulls it off pretty nicely, and – well, there are much worse things one could complain about, no?

The song begins with another fanboy dream come true: Cuomo singing alone at his piano, lo-fi as fuckall, clearly sourced from some scratchy home demo (a la “Broken Arrows” or “I Admire You So Much”). Really does sound like Dan Johnston to me, and one of his better moments – before Weezer dramatically segues the arrangement into a pretty wonderful verse, cut on wiry Doug Martsch guitars (the lyrics have a touch of classic Built to Spill, too: “When I’m lookin’ at the night sky, I can see my soul / I see the little lights flashin’ at each other up above”). The ooh-ooh pre-chorus has a flair of ‘50s rock’n’roll to it (in the vocal melody, too), and the transition back out of the chorus is where I hear that mid-period GBV (the guitar arpeggios, from the playing to the production, really call to mind Doug Gillard on the Ric Ocasek-produced Do The Collapse album). Cuomo’s vocal, like much of Hurley, sounds more unhinged and emotive than it has in years (that “nah!” before the second verse is worth more than he knows) — it’s a great thing to hear at last. Cuomo winds up doing the Pinkerton throwback, then builds into a one-word refrain that feels like it simply gives up rather than finishes the song proper. It definitely could’ve gone somewhere else, but the sudden collapse ably fits the tune’s mood and sentiment.

Of the majority I’ve heard, I’d be willing to venture that “Run Away” is the second best offering Hurley has to offer. Writing that out makes me feel a bit less excited about the record than I did a moment ago (it’s roughly on par with or better than what I’d say is second best track from the past few – “Tripping Down the Freeway,” “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” “The Other Way”), but the distinction here is that this record has at least three songs that are almost as good as this one (plus, again, one that’s even better), which is more than I can say about any of the ’00s records with the exception of Green. So if Hurley manages to keep pace with this standard (roughly…I know I hate “Memories,” and “Where’s My Sex?” sounds like it’ll be a true disaster), it should have no trouble being overall the fourth best Weezer album. Perhaps a pretty darn close fourth.

Still, “Run Away” is emblematic, for me, of Hurley’s limitations as an album. First and foremost, while “Run Away” features some of the best ideas Weezer’s put on record in a decade, they’re not all Weezer’s. It’s hard to know how much to credit Cuomo for a good song when part of the songwriting credit goes to a skilled and proven peer in the industry: Ryan Adams, in “Run Away’s” case. Hearsay (/wishful thinking?) from other fans have led me to believe that all the musical ideas in this song are Cuomo’s whereas Adams’ main contribution was merely telling Cuomo to place together ideas from two then-unrelated song scraps (first of all, probably untrue; second of all, essential to the finished product’s charm), but I don’t have a source for that. And not coincidentally, the one song I’d place above it is a co-write, as is the first song I’d place below it – all done with genuinely respectable and well-known musicians (well-aged legend Mac Davis, whose claim to fame is having written for Elvis Presley — and Dan Wilson of Semisonic, about whom I know little but esteem solely for the classic “Closing Time”). Which suggests a couple obvious things…including the fact that Cuomo really ought to stop “writing” with “artists” like Aly & AJ, already.

(Quick aside: in addition to being a not-really-Cuomo-Cuomo composition, this is likewise a not-really-Weezer-Weezer recording. Cuomo sings and drums, Adams plays lead guitar and bass, and I’d have to see the credits to know but it seems like some of the band was made absent from these particular proceedings. The end result sounds great, so I don’t particularly care, but it’s something worth noting for what’s billed as a Weezer song.)

Green, on the other hand, is solely the work of Cuomo at his most dictatorial (and Weezer at their most fearfully compliant) – which, if nothing else, means we know who to credit and fault. Which brings to mind the point that Green’s also a faultless record, both in that it’s ironed and spitshined to the point of near lifelessness (bad) and that there’s not a bad moment on it (good). Great, in fact – what it largely lacks in excitement, it ably compensates with reliability and the last batch of perfect melodies (and harmonies) ever cranked out by the Cuomachine. There’s not an embarrassing thing about it, whereas Hurley boasts “Where’s My Sex” (of which I’ve only heard a brief clip, though it was a particularly Fred Durst brief clip) and a couple other tracks that may yet be cringeworthy, as well as a meme-joke of an album cover that should’ve been an impetus to come up with a new title rather than to settle on this one (yes, these things matter – compare that to the immaculate, Mikey-complemented style of the Green sleeves). In the end, I’m optimistic that Hurley will be a solid #4 and might even signal a promising change in the winds of Weezer, yet unfailingly skeptical that this could surpass or even match Album Number Three (chronological and qualitative).

31 Comments

  1. The worst RS review was the one for Make Believe. I can’t even explain how awful that one is, you’ll just have to read it.

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink
  2. I just reread the review I talked about. Here it is, in case anyone feels like hurting real fucking bad: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/reviews/album/7733/38639

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Ludicrosity wrote:

    We Are All On Drugs is a love song!? Buahahahahahahaha, this review is so irrelevent, it’s actually funny. Also comparing Rivers’ singing tn Pardon Me to Buddy Holly… wow, or the character of BVH being an grown-up version of the “geeky” in MNIJ? Is this guy on drugs?

    Man that was one of the most out of touch reviews I have ever heard. Is this dude Weezer’s manager? If so, it’d explain a lot of their song recording/selection choices.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 5:21 am | Permalink
  4. Ludicrosity wrote:

    Wow, I should reall proofread my posts before critiquing a review eh? Corrected version is below. lol

    We Are All On Drugs is a love song!? Buahahahahahahaha, this review is so irrelevent, it’s actually funny. Also comparing Rivers’ singing on Pardon Me to Buddy Holly… wow, or the character of BVH being a grown-up version of the “geeky” character in MNIJ? Is this guy on drugs?

    Man that was one of the most out of touch reviews I have ever heard. Is this dude Weezer’s manager? If so, it’d explain a lot of their career choices.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 5:24 am | Permalink
  5. willydee wrote:

    this album filled me with hope that theyre back. the red album had many moments and if sweeney, spider, and pig had been in the 10 then it would be equal to hurley.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink
  6. th0mb0y wrote:

    The flute runs in Unspoken remind me of Ron Burgundy. Otherwise a solid song. I wish Rivers would have just sung WMS about socks. It is just as awkward a subject, but you don’t have to be in on his little joke to understand what he is talking about. I quit turning to RS for any meaningful reviews of any artist. This is the mag that called Pinkerton the worst album of 1996 then they re-visited it in 2004, gave it 5 stars and called it the “cornerstone of the late-Nineties emo movement”.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  7. Soyrev wrote:

    Hurley is not comeback album status, shit like “Sex?” and “Trainwrecks” fuck that — as well as the fact that, on paper, Cuomo only wrote like 55% of it. 😐

    And are you kidding me!? If Sweeney, Spider, and Pig (and King instead of CDW) were on Red proper, that’d be >>>>>> Hurley and the third best album easily. Even if the rest of it was still a jumbled mess.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  8. th0mb0y wrote:

    I think that Weezer’s only chance to make a true “comeback” album will occur after the Memories tour. They will have played TBA and Pink so many times that it would have to influence or inspire the writing a little. Either that or they will be so sick of it that they go in a completely different direction…

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  9. yim_yecker wrote:

    This song skips for me on my CD. It’s the only one. The guitar is very nice and is one of my favorite tracks because of it. At least I have an mp3 that is smooth.

    I think the transition from this song to Hang On is important. It’s a bleeding heart cry for love followed by acceptance and slight optimism. It’s a dark mix that contrasts the rest of the album for me and makes it whole.

    Without Runaway, I can’t listen to the rest of Hurley because it’s incomplete. I hope it’s just a smudge because I haven’t tried cleaning it.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  10. knightboat wrote:

    The first time I listened to the album, I thought Hang On was a continuation of this song, kind of like the bit at the end of Airplane by The Beach Boys… a new section that goes in a totally different direction. That transition is great, either way. Both are good songs.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  11. OOS wrote:

    @ Soyrev – I totally agree, Red was the best chance they’ve had for a comeback since Green. Though to be honest, he haven’t really gotten a lot of original Weezer compositions in the last couple years. So maybe there’s great stuff in the vault that just isn’t being put out there.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  12. Allgood wrote:

    It’s too bad that as Rivers Cuomo becomes a better person, his music suffers. Almost wish he was an asshole again.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  13. Soyrev wrote:

    Eh. Rivers at his highest state of asshole gave us Maladroit — doesn’t necessarily entail quality!

    Conversely, “Buddy Holly” and a few other great Blue era songs poured out of Rivers in a rush of genuine optimism and benevolence after inking a deal with Geffen…

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
  14. Allgood wrote:

    Maybe I shouldn’t have said asshole. I guess now that Rivers has found peace with himself and is comfortable in his own skin, we lose the songs that dealt with how uncomfortable he was. But I guess I’m just thinking of Pinkerton.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink
  15. HMC wrote:

    Man, sometimes I wonder if this fanbase would be as rabid about this band if they’d just been consistently good throughout their career. I have a lot of bands that I really love but I never really think that much about who the band members are or anything like that beyond the actual music. With Weezer it just feels like we all care so much just BECAUSE they used to be really good and now they’re not so good that we all attempt these crazy, complex psychoanalyses of the never-ending melodrama that is Rivers Cuomo and how he’s behaved at every every point in his life and what his motivations are and what would be the perfect set of circumstances to cause him to write a great album again. If the music had just remained good, would we even like Weezer as much?

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  16. OOS wrote:

    I think we’d like them more, but obsess about them less. These what-if’s are definitely what’s kept the fanbase this…well, fantatical, for so long.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  17. Burgess wrote:

    weezer fans were at their most rabid, i think, pre-green, post-pinkerton’s followup taking way too long to materialize

    Monday, October 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  18. Soyrev wrote:

    It must have been for the 2000 tours. The band’s back, still killing it live, playing new songs that were noticeably inferior to the back catalog but intriguing nevertheless, talk of a new album underway…And though many felt betrayed by Green, it’s really quite a good album. Hard to have been able to tell it at the time, though, I know.

    Monday, October 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  19. Burgess wrote:

    Whatever people may think of it now, Green was like a punch in the mouth to many Weezer fans who had stuck it out through the long dry period. “velouria” was cool, “the christmas song” seemed at least weezery. then “Christmas celebration” was kind of a bad sign. The summer songs were cool but everyone assumed they would be “finished” in the studio. Nobody expected such a lifeless album. We’d see lists of songs and just assume that this song “crab” and this one “oh lisa” must be AMAZING since almost all of the summer songs had been booted out of contention.

    Monday, October 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  20. th0mb0y wrote:

    Green is the chicken nugget of Weezer music. It had been processed and engineered so much that it had a consistent, familiar flavor, but you could tell it was way different than the real thing. I like chicken nuggets, but not as much as I like real chicken strips. (Now I’m hungry)

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  21. Soyrev wrote:

    Hahaha, great comparison! I love it.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  22. thegreatestscorch wrote:

    http://pitchfork.com/news/40295-campaign-to-pay-weezer-10-million-to-break-up/

    this guy seems pretty intent on making it happen

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  23. th0mb0y wrote:

    That is just silly. As much as Rivers has been chasing pop fame, I doubt he is in it solely for the money. Well he has made $140 so far. Good luck, I guess. Also this:
    “I have never been a fan of this band. I think that they are pretty much horrible, and always have been. Even in the early 90’s.”
    Why Bother?

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  24. Ludicrosity wrote:

    Fuck that guy for being such a tool and fuck pitchfork for giving such a tool any exposure — hell, fuck pitchfork for being pitchfork while we’re at it, I hate those guys!

    Seriously though, anyone giving this guy any money is stupid, who says he’s not gonna screw off with the $10 mil. at the end of the day? Just stupid all around.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  25. Ludicrosity wrote:

    And it’s also telling that the guy has nothing else better to do than to spend that much time and effort on getting a band he doesn’t like to break-up. He’s doing it for the fans? Puh-leeze.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  26. Soyrev wrote:

    What’s hilarious is that after some newspaper articles, a Pitchfork post and over 1000 Likes on Facebook, this cause still has under $200 to its name. WGAF

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
  27. thegreatestscorch wrote:

    And good ol pat posted a link to it and said something like make it twenty million and well do more than break up or something

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 3:24 am | Permalink
  28. Ludicrosity wrote:

    lol @ Pat, that guy is pretty awesome.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  29. ThomYorke wrote:

    Why is everyone taking it so seriously? It’s a fucking joke – just let it be, and frankly, it’s kind of funny. The notion of “OMG WHAT IF HE RAISES THE MONEY” is absolutely ludicrous, and obviously, the guy doesn’t really intend on raising it.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  30. Ludicrosity wrote:

    I don’t think he’ll actually get the cash, I just get annoyed with stupidity that’s all: Since this is stupid, I am annoyed.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  31. th0mb0y wrote:

    He does a good job at shedding light on the dilemma we face as Weezer fans.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

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