Weezer chieftain Rivers Cuomo has his own pace. Slow. It's over a decade since their debut struck platinum but you could never call him a "workaholic". The emotional investment leaves him constantly on the brink once promo duties cease. Cue lengthy sabbaticals between albums. Either that or he's just plain lazy.
This time it's been a (relatively short) three-year hiatus including another stint at Harvard. The wait heightens expectations amongst Weezerites, not to mention test the patience of his bandmates. Or maybe Cuomo is testing their many imitators, offering a challenge that he knows will never be met.
Any such opposition is futile. "Make Believe" is classic Weezer, further refining the template of unthreatening heavy metal riffs - thanks to uber-rock producer Rick Rubin - welded to smart lyrics, largely of satirical nature, and infectious melody. Take the lead-off single "Beverley Hills", a Joan Jett romp that triumphs in its simplicity, while introducing the album's underlying themes. "I might as well enjoy my life/And watch the stars play" positions "Make Believe" as a largely positive and retrospective album where Cuomo beats himself up (the norm) but then partly forgives himself or at least accepts how things pan out (the new part).
"Hold Me", "Haunt You Every Day" and "Perfect Situation" which opens with the self-explanatory "Why am I so obviously insane?" house the vicious self-attacks. That said, "This Is Such A Pity" is the musical equivalent of a shoulder shrug, a plea that ends with a definite "let's move on" conclusion. Fear of loneliness and closure also loom large. "Peace" ("And all the broken tethers/We can bring together") is reassuring even if his "brain is gonna pop" while on "Pardon Me" and "The Other Way", Cuomo confronts past mistakes, taking responsibility for hurt he's inflicted on loved ones and friends.
However, it's not all doom and gloom thanks to the swaggering "We Are All On Drugs". The message is thinly veiled as Cuomo swipes at chemical recreation with satire ("And you show up late for school/'cause you think you're really cool") making way for paranoia ("And you cause such a fuss/'cause there's no-one you can trust"). It's "Just Say No" with balls that few would attempt, let alone pull off so spectacularly.
Weezer don't suit everyone - you've probably decided already - but few bands have enjoyed such longevity with such consistency of output. It's not complex - their quality control has never dipped once and look at the results. And if Rivers is relaxing a bit then maybe he'll give college a break for good this time. We can only hope.