Review : Weezer - Pinkerton
PitchforkAt one point, there seemed as strong a chance of Weezer's making an album as good as Pinkerton as there was of their reissuing it. To say nothing of playing it live in its entirety. It's hard to think of a more fiercely beloved record a band has gone to great lengths to write out of its history. To recap: Weezer's self-titled Blue Album went multiplatinum on the strength of shiny power-pop and goofy videos anachronistic in the era of post-grunge. For the follow-up, Rivers Cuomo holed up at Harvard and made a disturbingly graphic, harshly recorded concept album that includes his sniffing the fanmail of an 18-year old Japanese girl while imagining her masturbating. Needless to say, it was not played for laughs. Pinkerton was poorly received by critics upon release and considered a flop after peaking at #19. Cuomo probably didn't care about the critics, but he took the public indifference very personally, soon retreating from view. But the cult that adored and passionately identified with Pinkerton became hard to ignore by the turn of the century, with the commercial breakthrough of confessional emo seen as its ultimate vindication. The record that killed Weezer's career ended up saving it.
It's a nice story, and one that's integral and damn near necessary to protect Pinkerton's legend: a popular misconception is that a Rolling Stone readers' poll named it the worst album of 1996 (it was actually third behind Bush and DJ Spooky), and as Rob Mitchum suggested in his review of Make Believe, it's something that people of a certain age might protect from re-evaluation for what it might say about their youth. In actuality, Pinkerton may initially have been the victim of a generation gap. It was hardly the first album to get this uncomfortably confessional, but it had some unusually bad timing. Self-laceration was in vogue during 1996, but as far as critical favorites went, it was often from a female perspective (Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, Courtney Love) that balanced boldness and raw vulnerability. In comparison, Pinkerton was hardly misunderstood, but instead seen for what it was: written from a juvenile, male, and incredibly needy perspective. It's a really tough album to go to bat for if you're an adult, particularly since enjoying it is so closely associated with relating to it.
And who would want to do that? On the very first song, Cuomo is Portnoy's Complaint on wax, disappointed with his inability to find true love in the midst of meaningless sex. And on the last one, he forsakes a chance at true love for... you guessed it, meaningless sex, giving an explanation that drips with insincerity: "I did what my body told me to/ I didn't mean to do you harm." In between, he lashes out at a woman for having the nerve to be a lesbian ("Pink Triangle") and for not devoting all of her attention to him ("No Other One"). He takes two failed relationships as concrete proof of romantic futility in "Why Bother?", and of course, the big reveal in "Across the Sea": "It's all your fault, mama."...full text
MusicPinkerton is a mess. It's a relentless, obstreperous deluge of distorted guitars and high-hat cymbals. Compared to the crisp, clean-cut pop of Weezer's eponymous debut, Pinkerton is a madman's demo tape. The band most certainly had not delivered more of the same -- when "the same" was precisely what everybody wanted. So it's easy to see why music-criticism-circa-1996 regarded it with derision and a parade of inimical condemnations. But now we know better.
A cold, malnourished bastard son, wanted by neither the world nor its own father, Pinkerton struck out on its own, relying on the departures that ostensibly doomed it (cacophony, rawness, emotion) to save itself. Fans old and new latched onto its shameless honesty, driving frontman and creator Rivers Cuomo to unadulterated regret (he once equated the album to a cathartic tirade the drunk regrets the following morning). So few mad scientists can kill their monsters.
Pinkerton is Weezer's best album, and, sad to say, it probably always will be. Somewhere between the beautiful noise of "Tired of Sex" and the delicate acoustics of "Butterfly" lay the underpinnings of the magnum opus of a band sent from the heavens to help quell the pain of Kurt's exit. Buoyed by singles "el Scorcho," "The Good Life," and thirsty-Thursday anthem "Pink Triangle," Pinkerton excels at everything, yet does it in a shy, insecure, practically self-hating way. Its fanbase relates....full text
SputnikmusicRemember the Early Nineties? The days when Kurt Cobain was still alive, Billie Joe Armstrong wasn't wearing tightpants, and Rivers Cuomo was less of a self obsessed dick? Well neither do I because at the time Nirvana, Green Day, and Weezer came to stardom, the only music I knew existed was the Beatles and.... Well what music did you listen to when you were 5??
Ironically, the three alt-rock gods of the early nineties went through very similar career paths. After each bands' big breakthrough successes, they each came out with a critically shunned-but-fan embraced album. Nirvana put out In Utero, Green Day: Insomniac, and Weezer came out with Pinkerton. Pinkerton felt the extremes of the peoples reaction to it. Rolling Stone, ever the big successful jackass, called it the worst album of the year. Fans, however, called it better than Blue (Or their self titled album at the time, before they confused everyone by releasing two self titled albums). I won't say it's better than Blue, which is a classic in anyone's mind, but it's still the next best Weezer album by far.
*Note: Pinkerton is loosely based on Madame Butterfly, however this concept is not gotten across at all, because if you didn't know this, you'd think Rivers was just obsessed with Japanese Girls.
1. Tired of Sex
Starting with feedback and a simple 1-2 beat by Pat, Tired of Sex represents many of the themes Pinkerton puts out. The lyrics are quite funny as Rivers goes off and lists all the girls he's slept with (Jen, Elaine, Katherine, you get the idea.) Fine harmonies put out by Brian and Matt during the verse. The first chorus is the best when Rivers just screams Oh! and it's great. Awesome spazzy, oddly-distorted guitar solo. Matt Sharp's bass work is fantastic as usual, and it also has a strange disotred quality to it. The song overstays it's welcome a bit, because when you think it's over, it goes on for a 20 second Coda, but that's easily ignorable....full text
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