Not the greatest return...
Rivers Cuomo, the bespectacled genius behind Weezer’s finest moments, is a man so enigmatic he makes Roman Abramovich look like Donny Osmond. Over the years he has flirted with commercial suicide, become a recluse, a visitor of massage parlours, has painted the walls of his room black, disconnected his phone for a whole year, studied at Harvard, fallen out with everyone in the music business and somehow released four compelling albums as songwriter and frontman of the world’s most dysfunctional band. Oh, and on the eve of the release of ‘Make Believe’, Weezer’s fifth album and first for more than three years, Rivers Cuomo has disappeared entirely. In place of the usual promotion and press campaign we have rumours of hotel rooms, illegal substances and women in states of undress…Sounds like a laugh, doesn’t it?
It’s always been something of a surprise that amid all this turmoil and struggle Weezer have released music that could hardly sound any more carefree were it to come with a free ride in a hot air balloon. The same sense of soaring genius, of pop immortality, is occasionally in residence on ‘Make Believe’. First single ‘Beverly Hills’ is touchingly odd and strangely addictive, familiar melodies and rhythms wrapped in original packaging. ‘The Other Way’ and ‘Perfect Situation’ are also songs that only Weezer could have written, and remind those who care why it’s still worth getting excited about new music from this band.
Only thing is, there just isn’t enough of this stuff on here. Too much of ‘Make Believe’ is unremarkable and restrained when Weezer are usually the exact opposite. Cuomo is probably incapable of writing a song, but here he has stab at penning a batch that aren’t particularly great. ‘We Are All On Drugs’ is more aspirin than ecstasy while ‘Pardon Me’ – an apology to everyone Rivers has wronged (which by rights should make it longer than Moby Dick) is just literal and lifeless. All of which makes you wonder what the hell Weezer have been up to in all this time away? Far from the unpredictable genius of old, it seems that Rivers Cuomo has returned lacking both edge and sparkle.