Make Believe IGN record review
|Make Believe (2005)
|Studio album by Weezer
|May 10, 2005
Reviewer: "JR" (IGN)
Publishing date: May 9, 2005
Weezer is a band cursed by its own greatness. After releasing Weezer ("the Blue Album") in 1994 and Pinkerton in 1996 - arguably two of the best alt-rock albums of the decade - Weezer culminated a five-year dry spell in what is widely regarded as a stumble. Two stumbles, in fact. Not that 2001's Weezer ("the Green Album") and 2002's Maladroit aren't enjoyable records in their own particular idioms. Mentioning them in the same breath as Blue and Pink, however… that's a little difficult to reconcile. And so Weezer have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to live up to… themselves. Does the group's fifth LP, three years in the making, meet the formidable expectations with which the fans have saddled it?
Make Believe combines the novelty and musicianship of Blue with the adept emotional gravity of Pink. That's where the similarities end. This is an altogether new beast crafted by an altogether new Weezer, a Weezer unafraid to return to the keyboards and acoustic guitars of their well-rounded musical crusade. If you want to know if Believe is as good as or better than Blue and/or Pink, well, you'll have to decide that for yourself. But at least you can put the three of them side-by-side in good conscience.
This is Weezer's "ballad album." Several tracks are structured, calculated affairs of considerable emotional weight. "Hold Me" and "The Damage In Your Heart" represent some of frontman Rivers Cuomo's most stirring vocal work while harkening back to Pink's soulful songwriting. "Peace" and "Pardon Me" reflect upon Cuomo's ongoing searches, borne from his life-changing venture into Vipassana meditation, for serenity and forgiveness. The record concludes with the heart-wrenching "Haunt You Every Day," Weezer's best closer since "Only In Dreams."
Believe offers heart and soul, but there's still room for that trademark Weezer whimsy. The ubiquitous single "Beverly Hills" opens the disc, replete with the bouncy pop and infectious hooks mirrored later in the novel "We Are All On Drugs." "Perfect Situation" is classic Blue, complete with romantic self-depreciation; more self-regard awaits on the catchy, hand-clap-equipped "The Other Way." "This Is Such A Pity" - easily the best Weezer brainchild both from this album and since Pink -- is an insanely addictive, synth-fueled Cars tribute. The entire record finds guitarist Brian Bell, drummer Patrick Wilson, and Scott Shriner (returning on bass) at the top of their games.
While Believe contains no "throwaway" tracks, the lyrics are generally less accomplished than they were a decade ago, and some entries aren't nearly as successful as their kinfolk. "My Best Friend," while a decent piece, is below par for the Weezer course. "Freak Me Out" is a dull snoozer, tolerable merely by virtue of the fact that there's never been a Weezer song like it.
A couple bum tracks can't detract from Make Believe's being representative of the very best Weezer has to offer. Cynical fans have speculated that this may be the last release from the interpersonally-troubled outfit; we can only hope that, far from being the swan song for Weezer's illustrious career, this album is the dawning of a brave new age. The Weezer you've been missing is back.
— "JR", May 9, 2005