By Jeff Jensen
Updated September 16, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Weezer’s eighth studio album is named after the Lost character Hurley, known for being a magnet for misfortune. Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates can relate. Weezer’s sucktastic 2009 included getting dropped by Geffen Records, surviving a tour bus crash, and releasing one of its weakest albums, Ratitude. Hurley represents a terrific rebound, a blast of sonic sweetness that finds the band integrating ’60s pop influences (Beach Boys; Phil Spector ”Wall of Sound” soundishness) into their tight, punk-pop songwriting; it’s altogether more upbeat than what you might expect given the bleakness of the previous year. Forget ”Memories,” the decent-but-it’s-no-”Troublemaker” opening track and first single. Hurley begins clicking with the third track, ”Trainwrecks,” a raw ode to a messy relationship, and builds from there. ”Unspoken” is a poignant, textured song about a man struggling hard, even self-destructively to prove himself — as a man, artist, lover. ”Hang On” is pure inspiration, a power pop anthem with an irresistible, chiming chorus. ”Smart Girls” is a valentine to brainy beauty that wins the award for Most Likely To Get Stuck In Your Head — a geek culture ”California Girls.” To be clear, Hurley wrestles with serious themes — heartbreak, nostalgia, busted and unrealized dreams; the kinds of things that songwriters usually write songs about when they’re on the precipice of turning 40. (Cuomo reached that milestone last June.) The album closes with ”Time Flies,” in which Cuomo gazes in the mirror, makes peace with mortality, but gleans a chance at immortality via his music. It’s a wistful yet buoyant tune — a fitting end to an album to finds an older, wiser, but still forever young Weezer rededicating itself to its brand of hard-rocking whimsy. A-