Weezer

Make Believe (Geffen)

If faceless label hawks had penned its script, Weezer would have recorded Make Believe as a followup to its 1994 self-titled debut (aka the "Blue Album"). That way, Pinkerton wouldn't have seemed like such a vast departure, and the suits would have had their highly sought-after summer-radio hits. But Weezer has never been about ease. Instead, cult phenom Pinkerton begat silence begat two more albums, which were mostly stilted and forced.

Make Believe walks the line between Pinkerton and the Blue Album so effortlessly, at times it plays like a mash-up of the two. Uber-producer Rick Rubin seems to have taken the pressure off the Weez, and the resulting sound is closer to the music that drew fans in in the first place. "Beverly Hills" is the most unapologetically playful and weird single since "Undone - The Sweater Song," while "Hold Me" captures the tragedy and triumph of heartbreak better than anything since "Across the Sea."

Rivers Cuomo's desperate lyrics still mine the trenches of doubt, but the music is absolutely certain. Weezer fans, rejoice! The group you fell in love with is back.

 
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