Friday, August 12, 2005

'Make Believe' by Weezer: First Impressions


When I bought Weezer's first (and self-titled) LP back in 1993, I may have been the only person in America who did so without seeing their music videos. I still haven't, perhaps indicating that I fit right in with the band's patented geekiness.

In the intervening time, I'd not only not seen any of the band's videos, I hadn't heard any of their music. But twelve years after my first Weezer purchase, on the strength of some good reviews I'd seen, I decided to pick up their latest release, Make Believe, the other day.

Musically, Weezer continues to mine the vain marked "post grunge, semi-punk, pop" rock, built on the time-tested elements of guitars, bass, and drums. Rivers Cuomo, the composer and lead singer of this band, displays a continuing mastery of melodies and catchy hooks. I also enjoy the band's vocal harmonies.

Lyrically, I've got some problems with Weezer. Irony is okay. Cynicism can be all right. But almost every track on this CD gives vent not just to the band's geekiness franchise, but to massive feelings of inferiority, or nihilism, or self-destructiveness. It's hard to imagine that all of this is authentic. If so, it's hard to understand how Cuomo and crew function from day to day.

Particularly egregious in this regard is the catchy, "We Are All on Drugs," which, by the way, sounds a lot like Bachman-Turner Overdrive's, "Takin' Care of Business."

For all that, if you don't pay attention to the lyrics a lot of the time, this is a good CD, one that I know I'll be listening to a lot.

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