Monday, March 20, 2006

Make Believe

album review

Album: Make Believe
Band: Weezer

Even though they appeared on the music map at a time when the grunge movement was in full swing, Weezer found home in a different section of alternative rock. The band’s take on indie emo in their self-titled debut album, commonly referred to as The Blue Album didn’t go unnoticed, primarily because of the single Buddy Holly and its accompanying video.

Although their sophomore album was named the “second worst of 1996” by Rolling Stone magazine, Pinkerton has now become a standard of sorts, not only for the newer bands which are trying to embrace that sound, but more so for Weezer itself. All of Weezer’s albums since 1996 have been continuously compared to their second set and under that light, have ended up bearing the “not good enough” tag. Make Believe, their fifth studio album, is suffering the same response as all other post-Pinkerton Weezer releases.

Make Believe is an enjoyable record, pleasantly different from the more serious rock albums that can be found on the modern rock charts. It is lined with some infectious melodies, sealed off with Rivers Cuomo’s (often sardonic) take on fame, life and drugs, and his ongoing quest to find peace — something that seems to be just as elusive to him as his Harvard degree.

The album opener and first single, Beverly Hills, sees Cuomo walking down the (by now familiar) path of self-depreciation, the very thing that has endeared Weezer to their fans and, at the same time, made them so infuriatingly unbearable for their detractors. The single, which reminds one of The Good Life days, was an instant commercial success and deny it as we may, the song is insanely addictive. Song two, Perfect Situation, is one of the stand-out tracks on the album, offering that classic Weezer feel, that too in perfect rhyme. Next on the disc is This Is Such A Pity, followed by the rather melancholy Hold Me and the introspective musings of Peace.

We Are All On Drugs, or We Are All In Love — as MTV would want us to believe — is supposedly an anti-drug song, completely ruined by the lyric change, no thanks to the American censorship policies. But this is where the album starts to derail. Halfway through the disk, the monotony starts to set in: everything from The Damage In Your Heart to Haunt You Every Day offers little surprise. While not necessarily of the bad variety, the songs that follow are somewhat predictable, and it’s probably this monotony that has resulted in listeners filling in the complaint forms. Plus, at times, it becomes a little too saccharine to swallow. Case in point: My Best Friend, the track that is said to have been written for the Shrek 2 soundtrack but was later replaced by The Counting Crows Accidentally In Love (and thank heavens for that!).

On the whole, Make Believe offers some good moments and some not-so-good ones, and although the disc might not be the best album that came out in 2005, it certainly isn’t the worst either. If fans can only stop comparing everything to Pinkerton for, like, a microsecond, they’ll see that Make Believe isn’t such a bad record after all. As for those of you who can’t stand Weezer’s previous releases, stay as far away from this album as possible!

- By Sameen Amer

Images, Dawn - 19th March, 2006