Though the release of its new album, Van Weezer, is delayed, Weezer has no shortage of snippets from the record to gift fans. Released May 6, “Hero” is the second single from the record, and according to a tweet from the band, the song is dedicated to “the stay at home dreamers, the Zoom graduators, the sourdough bakers, and the essential workers” in light of the coronavirus pandemic. And apart from its heartfelt salute, “Hero” is a clear sign that Van Weezer will be gracing ears with loud guitars and catchy lyrics to boot.
Fans may find the atmosphere and guitar stylings of “Hero” to be familiar in its resemblance to Weezer’s early work. “Hero” encapsulates the timeless raw 1990s rock sound that the band trailblazed, but with a peppier nature. Weezer has taken several different paths with its sound, from releasing strange mixes of emo power pop to an album made up entirely of covers. “Hero” marks the band’s commitment to staying true to its signature sound, anchoring the upcoming record in Weezer’s roots as it incorporates the influences of 1970s and 1980s rock giants.
Beginning with a steady drumbeat and a light, hopeful guitar riff, the song launches into a heavy chord progression while frontman Rivers Cuomo sings about his time as a child pretending to be a superhero. “When I was a kid, I thought I’d save the world/ Running ’round and chasing all the criminals,” he sings, before denouncing his childhood dreams in the next lines. It’s a song of self-realization and a cry for paving one’s own path, free from the pushes and pulls of societal pressure.
But the chorus adds a new emotion: insecurity. “You know, I tried to be a hero, but I was lying to myself/ I walk alone,” Cuomo sings. The song flips from a message of being one’s own hero to one of uncertainty. But the shift still hints at learning to be comfortable with oneself — it simply means it’s OK to not always be a brave, composed model citizen. “But life is hard enough with one identity,” Cuomo sings as words of reassurance.
Weezer’s lyrics have always held a mirror up to the inadequacies society often deals with, focusing on adult angst. But while “Hero” reconciles with one’s shortcomings, it also serves as a glimmer of hope, an outcast anthem of sorts. It’s a reflection of Cuomo’s own struggle with his self-image — a theme clearly present in some of Weezer’s earlier songs, particularly those off of 1996’s Pinkerton — but with a reconciliatory note.And while the instrumentals of “Hero” aren’t particularly unique for Weezer, the message of the song is an amiable way for the band to not only release new music fans have been waiting for since 2019’s Weezer (Black Album), but also give the untold heroes of the world due recognition, whether they’re saving others or simply themselves.