ello, Stylus readers! I’m Rivers Cuomo. Now, I know what you’re saying to your self right now. What’s a huge rock star like me writing a review of my own record on a silly little webzine like this? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life recently, as you might know if you’ve listened to our new album (Make Believe (in stores May 10th)), and I wanted to make sure at least one outlet got the story right. I’ve always been partial to the little guy, so when Stylus asked me to weigh in, I felt like it was a great opportunity to connect with my fans in the same way we did during the recording sessions for those first few albums back after Pinkerton.
First of all, I truly believe this album is our best yet. Oh, I hear your arguments: “But Rivers, Make Believe seems so simple compared to your other albums! How can you call this your band’s best?” Well, let me tell you. On this album, I found peace. And with peace comes simplicity. As you may or may not know, I’ve found a new religion since you heard from me last. And, yes, that has contributed to the type of music that I want to release. But I want you to know that it’s most definitely not affected our group sound. In fact, I think this album might just be the best testament to what I wanted my band to be from the beginning.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The peace I’ve found isn’t that all encompassing I’m-going-to-condescend-to-you-now type of thing. All I’ve learned is about myself. Take it from me, on our very first single, the most progress I’ve made is knowing that: “The truth is, I don’t stand a chance.” And while I mean Beverly Hills literally in that particular instance, you could probably take it to mean a whole variety of situations.
One thing I think I can handle is writing songs. I don’t want to come across as one of those egotistical jerks or anything, but it’s been the one thing that I’ve always been pretty good at. I think the one thing that I don’t get a lot of credit for is the hooks that I write. Take a listen to a song like “We Are All On Drugs” and get back to me on whether you think that wouldn’t be right at home on a classic Kiss album. It’s a schoolyard anthem waiting to happen! It’s Kiss that I was going for a lot here. While I don’t agree with Gene’s lifestyle choices, his band had that knack for distilling everything down to its essence.
But it’s not all simplicity on Make Believe. Check out that awesome voicebox solo on “Beverly Hills,” the addition of piano on “Perfect Situation,” synthesizer on my Cars homage “This is Such a Pity,” or even the harmonica on “Freak Me Out.” We’re branching out to things we’ve never done before, honestly, and I’m more excited than ever.
But hey, don’t take my word for it: listen to what Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield had to say about it: “after listening to Make Believe, we love you more than evs.” Four stars, too. I have to admit, I didn’t like some of the things that Rob said about it overall, but I really think they got it right: hell, they’ve pretty much always been on-point with our work ratings-wise.
But, again, they never seem to get me right in the substance. And I hope that I helped out a little bit here with that today. I also hope that you check out our new album (in stores now!). I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Reviewed by: Charles Merwin
Reviewed on: 2005-05-13