The pairing of power pop wizard Jason Falkner and legendary weirdo R. Stevie Moore may at first seem like a strange match, but it's clear right away that the two musicians bring out the best in each other. Falkner's studio wizardry and tight arrangements rein in Moore's predilections for formless noise, and Moore's careening songs give Falkner's sometimes too tightly buttoned-up approach a goose. Make It Be ends up being a true collaboration, full of left turns and great tunes, and ultimately becomes one of the most enjoyable albums in either's discography. Kicking off with the bruising power pop jam "I H8te Ppl," which features some beefy riffing and some cheerfully misanthropic lyrics, the album shuttles between hooky pop songs, electronic experiments, guitar instrumentals, spoken word asides, and a cover of Huey "Piano" Smith & the Clowns' "Don't You Just Know It." The songs are mostly composed by Moore, though Falkner sneaks in an original and the duo co-wrote a few. They split the vocals, too, with Moore mostly sticking to crooning sweetly, though he does let loose with some wild behavior on a couple tracks.
Though it's clear that Falkner is deferring to Moore most of the time, the best songs on the album are those that sound like a Falkner solo album, only with weirder songs. The lovely, melancholy "Another Day Slips Away" would have been a highlight on any of his albums; his cover of the old Moore song "Play Myself Some Music" sounds like a modern update of the Beach Boys circa-Sunflower, and the one song he wrote, "Horror Show," shows his songwriting skills haven't dropped off at all.
Moore contributes some of the album's highlights, too. "I H8te Ppl" is destined to become an underground anthem for lonely misanthropes; "I Love Us, We Love Me" is a sweet love song that sounds like vintage NRBQ at their poppiest, and while his spoken word pieces can be a bit jarring at first, they do give the album some personality. The record is packed with really fun, great-sounding songs and moments where the guys sound like they're having a blast working together. The only times the album flags a little are on the overly long electronic songs near the end and the cover of "Don't You Just Know It," which really doesn't fit in with the rest of the album.
Still, Make It Be is more than a pleasant diversion or an oddball one-off: It's the work of two artists of great worth firing on all cylinders. Fans of both Moore and Falkner should be thrilled by the results.