|Studio album by Weezer|
|Released||May 10, 2005|
|Recorded||December 2003 – February 2005, at Cello Studios, Grandmaster Recorders, Henson Studios, and Rick Rubin's home studio, Los Angeles|
|Individual song reviews|
|Singles from Make Believe|
Make Believe is Weezer’s fifth studio album, released on May 10, 2005. The album arrived three years after the band's previous album, Maladroit. AllMusic.com's Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the song as a "return to musical, emotional bloodletting", adding "It may be a spiritual cousin to Pinkerton, yet it's far removed from the raw, nervy immediacy of that album." The album was a commercial success, with "Beverly Hills" and "Perfect Situation" ranking as among the band's most popular singles to date. Despite this, the album has received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
- Main article: Album 5 Demos
Songwriting for the band's fifth album began before Maladroit had even been released, with demos being recorded as early as March of 2002. In an AIM chat with Rivers Cuomo on January 8, 2002, Cuomo described the sound of Weezer's fifth album as "a combination of The Green Album and Pinkerton, if that's possible! And some Maladroit. But really it's a new different style." A number of these songs, including "The Organ Player" and "Running Man", featured a shift to third-person storytelling. These sessions also featured, for the first time, songs primarily written and sung by band members other than Cuomo. Ultimately, though none of the songs from these sessions would appear on the final album, some song elements were re-appropriated into new songs that would appear on Make Believe.
- Main article: S.I.R. Demos
Following the summer of 2002, producer Rick Rubin agreed to work with the band on their next album. From September of 2002 through May of 2003, the band recorded new songs at S.I.R. Studios. Some songs that eventually appeared on Make Believe, including "Perfect Situation" and "Hold Me", were demoed as a band for the first time. According to an article with Rolling Stone, however, Cuomo wasn't pleased with the music he was making. Said drummer Pat Wilson, "“He didn’t believe in the music, because he didn’t believe in himself [...] Didn’t matter how many times we said, ‘That’s rad, Dude.’ There were times he was physically ill coming out of the studio." Rubin, wanting to help Cuomo, gave him a copy of The Gift, a book of poems by the fourteenth-century Sufi poet Hafez. Hafez, who wrote hundreds of ghazals about different forms of love, led Cuomo to an epiphany, which he described in a Harvard readmission essay:
Hafiz wrote hundreds of ghazals [or love songs], finding ways to bring new depth and meaning to the lyrics without losing the accustomed association of a love song…He explored different forms and levels of love: his delight in nature’s beauty, his romantic courtship of that ideal unattainable girl, his sweet affection for his wife, his tender feelings for his child…his relationship with his teacher and his adoration of God.
I was struck by the connection between all these different forms of love. I recognized that the feeling of sublime ecstasy I once got from music was just one more of these forms of love.I had an epiphany: if the feeling these mystics get in union with their God is analogous to the feeling I used to get in union with my music, then their teachings for how to achieve their union should likewise serve to instruct me how to achieve my union. A whole world of spiritual teachings therefore opened up to me for the first time since, as a child, I had decided that I was an “atheist”. I now read these spiritual teachings as coded instructions for how to connect with my musical creativity. For example, when Hafiz says, “Self-Effacement is the emerald dagger you need to plunge deep into yourself upon this path to …God”, I read it as “Self-Effacement is the emerald dagger you need to plunge deep into yourself upon this path to Musical Creativity.” Like this, I just replaced the word God wherever I saw it. I had discovered a new path which I believed was what I had been waiting for.
Cuomo subsequently sold his house and most of his possessions, moved into an empty apartment next to Rubin's house, and began volunteering six days a week at Project Angel Food in Hollywood, providing meals to people with HIV. Initially skeptical when Rick Rubin suggested meditation, Cuomo found himself drawn to the technique of Vipassana. Disgusted at himself for spending the past fifteen years having sex with groupies without ever being in love, Cuomo committed to a vow of celibacy for two years. Cuomo soon felt the effect of the discipline on his songwriting. One song, "Pardon Me" (Rubin's favorite) was written after Cuomo attended a meditation course in which the teacher told him to repeat over in his mind "I seek pardon from all those who have harmed me in action, speech or thought" . Another song, "Hold Me", was written while fasting.
“At first I was vehemently opposed,” says Cuomo. Rick Rubin, who produced Make Believe in off-and-on sessions that lasted more than a year, suggested meditation. “I sent him a very anxious page, saying, ‘Rick, no. I cannot get into meditation because it will rob me of the angst that’s necessary to being an artist.’ And he said, ‘OK, don’t worry about it, forget it.’ I think because he put no pressure on me, I began to get intrigued. Then I did a Tibetan-Buddhist meditation retreat. That wasn’t intense enough for me. I knew I wanted something extreme.”
- Main article: Acoustic Office Demos
Throughout 2003, the band began renting an office to demo new material acoustically.
- Main article: Make Believe Sessions
Before recording Make Believe, Rick Rubin suggested that the band, which he called one of the most dysfunctional bands he's ever worked with, have sessions with a "communications coach". Pre-production demos for Make Believe were recorded in November of 2003, with proper album production beginning at Cello Studios in December. The band would ultimately be dissatisfied with these recordings, however. Cuomo began recording new demos in January of 2004. Beginning in July, the band recorded again at Grandmaster Studios. Cuomo returned to Harvard in December, with the rest of the band finishing overdubbing through October. In January, the band reconvened at Rick Rubin's studio to assess the album's status. With the band's label requesting a spring release, the band scrambled to complete the album on time, with a lot of the recording and track list decisions being made very late in production, leaving several finished songs on the cutting room floor.
Tentative album titles
During the development of Make Believe, several titles were offered both jokingly and for serious consideration.
- One Thousand Soviet Children Marching Towards The Sun
- Somnambulist's Dream
- Either Way I'm Fine
At the video shoot for "Beverly Hills," Patrick Wilson shared with fans that both "Make Believe" and "a self-titled Red album" were being considered.
Make Believe was released on May 10, 2005, eleven years to the day of The Blue Album. Make Believe received mostly strong reviews, but was met with some fan criticism. The most pervasive criticism is in regards to the slick and clean production provided by Rubin. Many fans have stated that had it had the more "raw" production of Pinkerton, the album would have been stronger. Many of these fans fail to realize that Rubin was often absent from these sessions, and that engineer Chad Bamford arguably had a bigger hand in its 'slickness'. Make Believe is also the second Weezer album to venture beyond 10 tracks, consisting of 12 songs. This wouldn’t happen again until their ninth studio album nine years later in 2014, Everything Will Be Alright in the End.
The individual songs seemed to be hit-or-miss with fans. Typical fan favorites include "The Other Way", "This Is Such a Pity", and "Perfect Situation", while many are quick to dismiss "Beverly Hills" and "We Are All on Drugs", the two lead off singles. Despite fan criticisms, Make Believe was quick to go platinum and its lead single, "Beverly Hills", was Weezer's first #1 single. It was also the most popular download of 2005 (although technicalities make Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" the most popular).
There was some controversy regarding the second single, "We Are All on Drugs". Despite a fantastic reaction to the song at live shows, fans were quick to dismiss the song as a single. Furthermore, MTV demanded that the song be censored before they aired the video. The song was re-dubbed with the new chorus "We Are All in Love". When the band was asked to censor it, Pat wanted to give it the sarcastic name "We Are All on Hugs". "In Love" was recorded at the suggestion of Brian Bell.
Later, when "Perfect Situation" was announced as the album's third single, it was decided to remix the track with a new chorus. According to Cuomo, he had written two different versions of the chorus melody. When fans at live shows inadvertently sang it the way he originally wrote it, he realized he should change it. The new version also features backing vocals of "perfect situation" during the outros because Geffen felt the song's title wasn't repeated enough for it to be a single. "Perfect Situation" trumped "Beverly Hills" on the charts, remaining #1 for four weeks despite having no physical single release.
|Metacritic||(52/100)||Continuous||Average score of collected album reviews|
|Allmusic||(4.5/5)||Not listed||Stephen Thomas Erlewine|
|Blender||(3/5)||Not listed||Chris Norris|
|Dot Music||(8/10)||May 16, 2005||Chris Heath|
|E! Online||(B-; 67/10)||Not listed||Not listed|
|The Guardian||(3/5)||May 5, 2005||Dave Simpson|
|IGN||(9.3/10)||May 9, 2005 (updated May 19, 2012)||"JR"|
|NME||No rating given||September 12, 2005||Ian Winwood|
|Pitchfork Media||(0.4/10)||May 8, 2005||Rob Mitchum|
|Rolling Stone||(4/5)||May 19, 2005||Rob Sheffield|
|Stylus||(D+; (33/100)||May 13, 2005||Charles Merwin|
Make Believe marked a drastic shift in the critical narrative surrounding Weezer's career. While the band had never received unanimously positive reviews, Weezer had enjoyed a resurgence of approval following the critical reappraisal of Pinkerton in the late 90's. The band's first two albums began to be appreciated as modern classics, with a number of more junior bands citing them as important influences. The reviews of both 2001's Weezer and 2002's Maladroit proved less enthusiastic than this general consensus, but did not stray notably stray from it. Make Believe brought an abrupt end to this, as indicated by the album's Metacritic score of 52 out of 100, the lowest of their discography. While some compared the album's emotionalism to that of Pinkerton, many criticized it as cliche. Pitchfork Media - which dominated music criticism in 2005 - gave the album a 0.4/10, and deemed it a "terrible," citing Rubin and Cuomo as the culprits. The review described the writing as "lazy", and said that not only was the album terrible, but it makes the listener rethink their opinions on past Weezer work.
|"Beverly Hills" (Pitchfork Media)||(1.0/5)||March 22, 2005||Nick Sylvester (Pitchfork Media)|
Many songs were written and recorded during the Make Believe demos and sessions, but few have surfaced. They include a few leaked home demos, a song on Alone, and two acoustic office demos that were not released until 2008 as iTunes bonus tracks for The Red Album.
The "fallen soldiers"
- Main article: The "fallen soldiers"
The "fallen soldiers" refers to finished recordings done during the Make Believe sessions that were ultimately left off of the album in favor of the twelve tracks that went on Make Believe.
The first pressing of Make Believe was in a digipak and featured different mixes of several songs than later editions. There was an error on "We Are All on Drugs" (the wrong bridge was used), "Perfect Situation" was remixed when it became a single, and "This Is Such A Pity" (which originally featured a drum fill near the end) was replaced with a second incorrect mix (no drum fill, no high note on the word "that" in the third verse), then again with the 'correct' mix (no drum fill, high "that"). Due to all the confusion, it is unclear how many copies of each pressing were made, and exactly which versions of the three songs were used on each one.
The liner notes feature art direction by Francesca Restrepo with illustrations by Carson Ellis and photography by Sean Murphy and Karl Koch. The booklet also features a monologue from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The monologue is taken from Act 5, Scene 1 of the play in which Prospero gives up his magic. This had prompted many fans to speculate that Make Believe would be the band's final album. The monologue is as follows:
"This rough magic I here abjure, and, when I have required some heavenly music, which even now I do, To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book."
The words "del cammin" and "vita" can also be seen hidden in the liner note illustrations, a possible reference to the opening line of Dante's Inferno, "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita" meaning "When I had journeyed half of our life's way." 
Track listingAll songs written and composed by Rivers Cuomo.
|3.||"This Is Such a Pity"||3:24|
|6.||"We Are All on Drugs"||3:35|
|7.||"The Damage in Your Heart"||4:02|
|9.||"My Best Friend"||2:47|
|10.||"The Other Way"||3:16|
|11.||"Freak Me Out"||3:26|
|12.||"Haunt You Every Day"||4:37|
International bonus tracks
- "Butterfly" (Live) - UK and Japanese version (Recorded on July 12, 2002 in Detroit, MI.)
- "Island in the Sun" (Live) - UK and Japanese version (Recorded on July 12, 2002 in Detroit, MI.)
- "Burndt Jamb" (Live) - Japanese version only (Recorded on July 26, 2002 in Camden, NJ.)
- Rivers Cuomo – lead guitar, lead vocals
- Patrick Wilson – drums
- Brian Bell – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Scott Shriner – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Rick Rubin – producer
- Chad Bamford - engineer, production