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Weezer returns to form

Weezer - Make Believe
8 out of 10
By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
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It's not easy being a Weezer fan. Since 2000's Weezer-lite self-titled album disappointed, it hasn't been easy to defend these guys. 2002's Maladroit was an even bigger disappointment, and a video with Kermit the Frog didn't help their credibility.

Then "Beverly Hills," Make Believe's first single, hit about a month ago.

Confusion set in. Then anger. Then apathy. Then more confusion.

"Beverly Hills," with a chorus stolen from "I Love Rock and Roll" and gag-inducing lyrics, was the worst Weezer song ever released.

Rapping? A talkbox solo? A video at the Playboy mansion? Was Weezer actually Good Charlotte in disguise?

Where had Rivers Cuomo - the man we once called a pop genius - gone?

Well, he's back.

After "Beverly Hills" - the first track on Make Believe, Weezer's fifth studio album - the old Weezer comes back, save one misstep.

"Perfect Situation" comes second, and it announces immediately that things have changed. A prolonged intro full of guitar wankery builds into Cuomo's vocals, front and center. Often spitting his words, Cuomo's voice hasn't sounded this good since Pinkerton. Full of handclaps, some piano and a chugging chorus, the track builds to epic proportions the way they did so easily on their first two albums. While the chorus avoids using lyrics (opting instead for "oh, oh"), it's still a beautiful reawakening for Weezer.

Next up is the '80s-inspired "This Is Such a Pity." From the keyboards to the female backing vocals, this is the Cars meets the Cure and something that Weezer hasn't sounded like since the popular B-side, "You Gave Your Love To Me Softly." Aside from an unfortunate solo resembling Europe's "The Final Countdown," the track is fun and bouncy, and could fill the need for a second single and sit next to The Killers and The Bravery on modern rock radio.

"Hold Me," "Peace" and "Haunt You Everyday," like "Perfect Situation," are ballads that build from a slow, quiet verse to a loud, demanding chorus. While the formula gets old, the melodies are strong and Cuomo's delivery carries them through.

Lyrically, Cuomo doesn't seem to be putting forth much effort. We follow a few trends through the album, as he tries to put his heart on his sleeve but ends up pushing too hard with the "I'm a nerd who's not confident in myself" routine.

The main theme seems to be that Rivers is crazy. For example, on "Beverly Hills" he laments that "my friends are just as screwy as me" and on the next track he asks, "Why am I so obviously insane?" He later uses lines like "Everybody thinks we're crazy," "My poor brain is gonna pop" and the simple, but to the point, "I am just insane."

He also seems to be afraid of something, or everything, when he admits that, "I am terrified of all things" on "Hold Me." He goes on to say in other songs "I have many fears about rejection/ I have many fears about my greed," "I want to hold you, but I am afraid" and "Man, you really freak me out/I'm so afraid of you" on "Freak Me Out."

"Freak Me Out" is actually where Cuomo comes closest to matching old lyrical form, getting some nerd irony out of his declarations.

If Make Believe were Weezer's third album, it would be interesting to see how differently people would have reacted. Certainly it's weaker than the first two, but, in comparison to the last two, it's pure brilliance.

Let's hope things only get better.

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