Weezer created two of the greatest albums of the 1990s. This fact is something to talk about, especially given some of the excellent music to result from the decade. Both the debut Weezer and the sophomore release Pinkerton showed the band’s amazing sense of melody and excellent wordplay
In their debut album, Weezer demonstrated that a perfect pop album needn’t be mindless nonsense to feed to the ignorant masses. Instead, clever lyrics, great guitars and absolutely catchy songs propelled the album to greatness. Nearly every song could have been a single, and each was full of more hooks than can possibly be imagined. There were no weak links, no false steps, and no annoying songs that you might skip to get to a better one. The whole album was full of highlights and simply shimmered with excellence. Certainly, some songs were more popular, but these weren’t any better or worse than the non-singles – they were all amazing.
Pinkerton followed by leaving the immediately enjoyable pop sensibility of Weezer. Instead of joyful songs with bright guitar solos, the band took a turn for the dark and personal. More difficult compositions and densely layered sounds made this album difficult to approach but infinitely excellent to love. Deep emotional turmoil was the highlight as frontman Rivers Cuomo expelled many personal demons and revealed an insecure individual behind the microphone. Powerful and memorable songs carried Pinkerton into the ears of its followers and validated Weezer’s excellence.
Sadly, Weezer’s excellence has been entirely invalidated. With song after horrible song, we must now look at the absolute mess that is Make Believe.
The experience begins with the worst song of Weezer’s career (and perhaps the worst song in years). “Beverly Hills” attempts some terrible combination of rap and rock and plummets into some chasm between the two. Not even the guitars can save this junk, as a terrible shot at a wah-wah solo (think Frampton but awful) just confirms the terror.
Initially, “Perfect Situation” seems to redeem the band, but it is merely the effect of following the low point on an album – everything seems better in comparison. Yet as soon as Rivers begins to talk, your mouth will move to a wince. Pathetic wordplay drives this song as it tries to find a groove. The music is nice enough (something to move your leg to as you listen), but the tortured soul of Pinkerton now sounds like a pathetic creep here.
No further hope is found in the third, fourth or fifth songs as childish lyrics ruin any hope of extracting joy from potentially decent melodies. Pathetic examples include “All these problems on my mind make it hard for me to think,” or “I don’t want to be a chump/You think I’m a fascist pig” or “Hold me/Take me with you cause I’m lonely.” Nothing sounds real and Rivers is just pathetic.
Yet as if “lower” could not seem to be achieved, the band tries again with “We Are All On Drugs.” The terrible melody can’t even work as counterpoint here – the whole song is awful. The constant repeat of the verse “on drugs” becomes grating within the first few seconds (and the song lasts a full three minutes and 30 seconds). Try as the guitar solo might, nothing works to even improve this song to “embarrassing.” It is just terrible and should be skipped without even a single listen.
More songs follow the format seen in earlier mediocre material on the album until “My Best Friend” appears. This is seemingly the only “good” song on the entire record. With an upbeat tempo matching the generally happy lyrics, the song seems to fit itself. However, weak lyrics erode the song and leave an unsatisfying taste in the ears. However, the song still manages to be okay. Perhaps the whiny Rivers should have stuck to this jubilant tone when writing the rest of the Make Believe.
Unfortunately for determined listeners, two of the worst tracks are saved for the end. “Freak Me Out” is very different from the rest of the album with its laid-back, new-wave feel. However, downright stupid phrases manage to ruin this potentially interesting song.
Finally, as if to simply kick you in the ears for trying to extract something good from the album, “Haunt You Every Day” finishes Make Believe on another low point. By beginning the song with “I don’t feel the joy/I don’t feel the pain,” fear immediately overtakes the listener. This forced and unfortunate lyric translates as expected from the album – into a terrible song with inferior musicality and idiotic phrasing.
With only one potentially redeeming song on the entire album, Make Believe is a complete failure of popular music. Where the past Weezer would have worked to create catchy music, this version of the band tries to force interesting songs, only to find repeated junk. By starting with such a piece of crap as “Beverly Hills,” Make Believe never stands a chance and only manages to get more annoying over time. Don’t buy, listen to, download, or even look at this album. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever listened to.