Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weezer - Make Believe - Review

There are pretty much two widespread opinions regarding Weezer: Blue Album and Pinkerton are classics, and Make Believe is garbage. Whether it's the almost self-parody that they eventually allowed themselves to slip into or the 'sell-out' nature of the hit single "Beverly Hills", something rubbed longtime Weezer fans the wrong way. Make Believe is a fun album; somehow managing to be blissfully unaware of its own silliness while shamelessly basking in it.

The whole endeavor is a departure of Weezer's standard chunky power chord, harmony-driven sound, instead opting for an album laced with 80s pop sensibilities, whether it be the synthy thump of "This Is Such a Pity" or the guitar line of "The Damage In Your Heart" directly inspired by "(I Just) Died in Your Arms". The grand finale "Haunt You Every Day" practically asks to be put beside the likes of cheesy ballads like "Unbreak My Heart" and anything by Celine Dion. And if you don't belt out that chorus along with Rivers, then the album isn't being listened to properly.

 Lyrically the album follows pop standbys such as love and loneliness, and Rivers handles these topics with such an earnest lack of subtlety that it's sometimes difficult to tell if he's being serious. Don't be fooled; this is not the Rivers Cuomo that wrote "My Name is Jonas" and "Only in Dreams". This is Rivers still holding onto the honesty of Pinkerton but without any more real stories to tell. Nevertheless, there is genuine emotion in his voice, making even the most vapid of words and childish of rhymes ("You're my best friend / And I love you / And I love you / Yes I do") appear heartfelt. Musically the album is quite simple, and though the synth leads and reverb-y guitar tones spice things up, the rhythm section falls quite flat. Bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Pat Wilson simply refuse to be noteworthy, but don't necessarily detract from the experience. The album is surprisingly cohesive, considering the misleading single "Beverly Hills", which employs more of a wannabe rapper style, and of all things, a talk box solo. The second biggest single "Perfect Situation" is actually a much more accurate representation of the album, with catchy verses and a simple "whoa oh" chorus. Other highlights include "Hold Me", one of the best power ballads the band has ever written, "We Are All On Drugs", where it feels as if Rivers' voice could break at any moment, and deep track "Freak Me Out" which is surprisingly subdued.

If there are any stumbles, they lie in "Peace" and "Pardon Me", both edging too far on the side of average without any real standout moments. This is one of those albums that has always been easy to hate. Listen to it again. Forget about Blue, forget about Pinkerton. Take it for what it is, it might surprise you.


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