Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Make Believe Drops Today

Weezer's fifth album Make Believe drops today. It is getting taken through the proverbial cleaners by critics. Weezer was my all-time favorite band during high school. Everyone has one. I had Weezer. I shamelessly still had a giant Weezer poster in my bedroom up until the Spring of this year. The same poster that adorned every wall of every bedroom I've had since high school (let's see, that's probably 8 places).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Rob Mitchum's review on pitchforkmedia.com. Disclaimer: I have yet to listen to this album but much of what he says could apply to Weezer's last album, Maladriot, anyway which to me was a collection of b-sides off of the Green Album trying to prove both that Rivers could play guitar and that he could write songs where the guitar solos weren't just rehashes of the chorus melody (read: exact copy). It was dismal. And, let's be honest, the Green Album wasn't that much better.

There are two distinct groups of bad albums. The more prevalent kind is the fodder that fills a critic's mailbox, bands with awkward names and laser-printed cover art that don't inspire ire so much as pity. The second group is more treacherous: Bands that yield high expectations due to past achievements, yet, for one reason or another, wipe out like "The Wide World of Sports"' agony-of-defeat skier... Sometimes an album is just awful. Make Believe is one of those albums.

Weezer have been given a lot of breaks in their second era-- both The Green Album and Maladroit were cut miles of slack despite consisting of little more than slightly above-average power-pop. The obvious reason for this lenience has to do with the mean age of rock critics, and the fact that most of these mid-20s scribes were at their absolute peak for bias-forming melodrama when The Blue Album and Pinkerton were released.

Hearing a song like "We Are All on Drugs", which nicks the classic melody of the schoolyard "Diarrhea" song (you know, "when you're sliding into first..." and so on) for an anti-drug message stiffer than Nancy Reagan's "Diff'rent Strokes" cameo, it calls into question whether The Blue Album was really that great, or whether it just stood out as a rare beacon of guitar pop in a grunge-obsessed era.

The one half-decent song on the record, "This Is Such a Pity", fails to even maintain its status as a pleasant Cars homage, interjecting a guitar solo that sounds like it was cut from the original score to Top Gun.

And the absolute best...

So does Make Believe completely ruin not just present-day Weezer, but retroactively, any enjoyment to be had from their earlier work? I don't know-- I'm too scared to re-listen to those first two albums-- but it certainly appears that Make Believe will expertly extract the last remaining good graces the critical community has to offer latter-day Weezer, unless my colleagues' memories of slow-dancing with Ashley to "Say It Ain't So" are more powerful than I can possibly imagine. Of course, if Ashley went on to break your heart, fellow critic, Make Believe might be just the medicine you need; put it on repeat and watch your emotional scar be obliterated as collateral damage in the torpedoing of Weezer's legacy.

Touche my dear critic. Touche!

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