Make Believe Blender record review

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Make Believe (2005)
Make Believe (2005) cover
Studio album by Weezer
Released May 10, 2005
Professional reviews

Metascore 52
Make Believe
Reviewer: Chris Norris (Blender)
Publishing date: Unlisted
Rating: 3/5
3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars3/5 stars (3/5)

It ain’t easy being Weezy. Eleven years ago, Rivers Cuomo was the horn-rimmed face of alternative rock. His band charmed a nation with cranked guitars, candy-coated hooks and oblique mallspeak, riffing on suburban malcontents in hits like “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Buddy Holly.” Then Cuomo began a life course 180 degrees off any known rock-star trajectory.

He attended Harvard (thus the references to girl cellists on sophomore CD Pinkerton), then started a journey into celibacy, Buddhist meditation and facial hair. Subsequent albums cemented Weezer’s reputation as the Monsters of Emo, even as Cuomo became increasingly estranged. Their latest is the work of a deep, spiritual man whose quest for peace makes for less than rockin’ songs.

While the single “Beverly Hills” is solid if rote Weezer—an outsider anthem primed for Spike Jonze or the Gap’s in-store playlist—most songs seem to have been stripped down to some Platonic ideal of honest communication, as if Cuomo’s vow of abstinence included wit, irony and humor. Utter certain phrases to a person and they may hug you; sing them, and the effect isn’t so charming. “You’re my best friend and I love you.” “I’m going to try to improve my manners.” To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, only the stoniest heart can hear these lyrics without laughing.

These New Wave–tinged, Rick Rubin–produced songs are often diabolically catchy—as in the just-say-no jam “We Are All on Drugs”—or drop-dead gorgeous. The heroic singing and descending chords on “Pardon Me” manage to turn an offhand pleasantry into a prostrate plea for forgiveness. But in striving for Zen-like purity, the songs often end up eerily blank. The author of 1994’s passive-aggressive Beach Boys update “Surf Wax America” (“I’m going surfing ’cause I don’t like your face”) may have entered his Brian Wilson, I’m-afraid-to-leave-my-room phase. “Man, you really freaked me out,” he sings near the album’s end. “I’m so afraid of you.” The feeling’s mutual.

— Chris Norris

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