Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo repeatedly refers to mental deficiencies in his latest lyrics, including two twists on the phrase I'm insane
. Given the uneven songwriting on Make Believe
, this might be a medical disclaimer from the Harvard-educated enigma rather than a literary device. In his slavish pursuit of end rhymes, he adds superfluous words (So I apologize to you
/And anyone else I hurt, too
) and marries tired partners such as hero
. And in his inexplicable quest to convert a solid album act into a novelty-hit factory, he places interesting instrumentation in dubious vehicles such as the I'm-a-star-but-not-that
-kind-of-star whine "Beverly Hills" and the peppy yet pandering "We Are All on Drugs." During the bouncier tracks, Cuomo shifts from woe-is-me to whoa
in an attempt to manufacture sing-along segments. Guitarist Brian Bell appears equally eager, opening one tune with the sort of solo that splits power ballads in half. Despite all this desperation, Weezer manages some genuine moments, such as Cuomo's falsetto finale to the poignant (and refreshingly rhyme-free) "The Damage in Your Heart." A few catchy, charming numbers recall the pre-psychedelic '60s, with snappy percussion and persistent vocal hooks. Weezer still makes near-perfect radio-ready pop, except when it makes a concerted effort to do so.