Make Believe

Studio Album by released in 2005

Make Believe review

Weezer leader Rivers Cuomo is an odd, ornery sort. He's a genuine rock & roll maverick, at once attracted and repelled by his star status, disappearing for long stretches at a time, often to return to college. This time it's been a three-year hiatus including another stint at Harvard. The wait heightens expectations amongst Weezerites, not to mention test the patience of his bandmates. Or maybe Cuomo is testing their many imitators, offering a challenge that he knows will never be met. There has never been anything like this new album Make Believe. It is coherent but strange, complex, ambiguous, and ultimately disturbing — and very, very good. The rich Weezer sound-painting is deployed as subtle punctuation to texts that are drawing sustenance from an awkward and unsettling post-modern, post-rock world.

Make Believe is classic Weezer, further refining the template of unthreatening heavy metal riffs welded to smart lyrics, largely of satirical nature, and infectious melody. Take the lead-off single Beverley Hills, a Joan Jett romp that triumphs in its simplicity, while introducing the album's underlying themes. There is a threat of violence between lovers in This Is Such A Pity. There is loneliness and terror of loss of happiness in the next track Hold Me. This leads shortly to We Are All on Drugs. Pardon Me reduces to the demotic the classic story of break-up. My Best Friend is true confessions with the use again of the word apologize - with ample lashings of Pardon Me. The Other Way is a devastating portrait of ineptitude in interpersonal relations. Are we all so attuned to the landline, the Internet, the mobile, the digital this-and-that, that we no longer relate significantly to one another? Sad - but probably true. Make Believe is a profound comment on our era. This album is going to make an indelible impression on popular music, provided the public rise to its intellectual challenge. The Ben Folds-esque Perfect Situation, rockin' stomp of My Best Friend and '80s-inspired This Is Such a Pity are their best shots.

Make Believe may be a spiritual cousin to Pinkerton, yet it's far removed from the raw, nervy immediacy of that album. Nearly ten years separate the two records, a long time by any measure, so it shouldn't be a surprise that Cuomo has a far different emotional outlook here. On Make Believe he purposely avoids the pain and torture of Pinkerton, where the guitars exploded and scraped, complementing the torment in his lyrics. Here, Cuomo is trying to sort things out, sometimes beating himself up over past mistakes, sometimes looking at his surroundings sardonically, but something separates Make Believe from previous Weezer albums: a palpable sense of optimism, a feeling of hope, a new positivity. It is a great combination of Weezer's new sound and the self-deprecating honesty of Pinkerton and the Blue Album. Make Believe is a largely positive and retrospective album. Weezer don't suit everyone but few bands have enjoyed such longevity with such consistency of output.