Getting what you want and have always dreamed of is a great feeling, especially if you have been working towards your goal for a long time and finally achieving it. The fulfilment of watching your wildest dreams coming true in front of your eyes is a feeling many people strive and work toward their whole lives in order to hopefully achieve the perfect life for themselves. If these dreams manage to come true for a person, the question you are always left with in the end is this: Did you finally get what you always wanted? This can often be a trick question as the answer often depends on whether or not you actually ended up getting the things you originally set out to get.
For a music group or any kind of artist the question can be even harder to answer as commercial success and artistic success aren’t necessarily always two things that go hand in hand.
Weezer (Rivers Cuomo Guitar/Vocal, Matt Sharp Bass/Backup vocal, Brian Bell Guitar/backup vocal, Patrick Wilson Drums) made it big in 1994 with their self-titled debut album a.k.a. The blue album, that spawned some commercial successful singles in the form of: Say it ain`t so, Buddy holly and Undone – The sweater song. The bands Pixies/Beach boys influenced geeky power rock quickly found its audience in a post-grunge era, and put the band firmly on the rock map.
The term the difficult second album is often used to describe a bands follow up album, after they manage to break into the mainstream and has to produce an album as successful as one they received all the attention from.
When it came time for Weezer to follow up the debut album, front man Rivers Cuomo initially wanted to create a space rock opera entitled: Songs from the black hole. The album was meant to tell a story of a group of people, who’s mission were to travel into outer space, which metaphorically was meant to reflect the bands mission and struggle to climb up the rock charts and making it big with their first album. In the words of Rivers: There's this crew - three guys and two girls and a mechanoid - that are on this mission in space to rescue somebody, or something. The whole thing was really an analog for taking off, going out on the road and up the charts with a rock band, which is what was happening to me at the time I was writing this and feeling like I was lost in space."
Eventually the band decided to abandon the concept idea of the album and began working on a different version of the album. Some of the song from the black hole session ended up in slightly different version on the final album and some songs remained unreleased for quite some time. A lot of the songs have since leaked on the internet or been released elsewhere, but to this day the Black hole album is still a much desired and often taking about topic among Weezer fans, as the album that never was.
The Final version of the album was named Pinkerton and was the first album the band self-produced. The album was loosely based upon Puccini’s opera play Madame Butterfly and like the play had a lot of references to Japan, its people and its culture. When hearing the album for the first time, the first thing you noticed is the production and especially the drum sound. The sound of the drums is very raw, natural and basic and sounds as if you are standing right next to the drummer in the rehearsal room. Patrick Wilson pounds hard on the drums and definitely shows of his often underrated talent as a drummer throughout the course of the album especially in the lead single El Scorcho, with its quirky verse, sing a long chorus and punky bridge and as well in the songs Why bother and The good life. On later recordings done by the band, the drumming have been somewhat simplified compared to older recordings, making Wilson sounds more or less like a drum machine than the great drummer he actually is. But on this album and as well as their fourth album Maladroit Wilson’s drumming is more adventurous and loose and thereby makes for a greater listen overall.
The Guitar sound is also a lot more abrasive and distorted than the one found on the Blue album and is more upfront in mix, which nicely compliments the raw and punching sound found on the drums. Matt Sharps Bass sound is like the guitar more upfront in the mix and raw and distorted and helps the songs keeping their flow and lays a nice melodic foundation underneath the pounding drums and raw guitar sounds, while having some nice bass lines attached to the songs as well, especially check out the last part of The good life. Matt also provides some nice background vocals, which further establishes their Beach boy’s connection, with the background vocal melody adding a nice poppy and harmonic twist to the hard recording and production found in the instruments.
The Lyrics are loosy based on the Madame Butterfly opera, while incorporating Rivers` own emotions and frustrations of love, as shown in songs such as Pink Triangle, No other one and Why bother. All three songs shows Rivers wearing his heart on his sleeve and trying to come to grips with why love sometimes is such a hard and confusion thing to get your head around. Another subject in the lyrics is stardom which is probably best displayed in Across the sea. The song deals specifically with a fan written letter send from Japan to Rivers and the songs works as his response to the letter, and contains some great and typical geeky lyric lines, which the band latter would be synonymous for and to some degree already were, such as:
You are 18 year old girl who live in small city in Japan.
You heard me,
on the radio.
About one year ago and you wanted to know,
all about me,
and my hobbies.
My favorite food and my birthday
And furthermore in El scorcho, which both contains a reference to the Madame Butterfly character Cio-Cio san and further establishes the connection and fascination with the culture of Japan:
I asked you to go to the Green Day concert
You said you never heard of them
How cool is that?
So I went to your room and read your diary:
"Watching Grunge leg-drop New-Jack through a press table..."
And then my heart stopped: "Listening to Cio-Cio San
Fall in love all over again."
The Album finishes of with an acoustic song named Butterfly, which has a warmer and more intimate production, than found anywhere else on the album. The song finds Rivers once again wearing his heart on his sleeve, with only a guitar and a few kick drum kicks to keep him company and makes for both a moving and fitting album closer.
Weezer never gave any real answer to whether or not they really wanted all the fame they received with the success of the blue album, but the band decided to answer back with an album, which in a lot of aspects definitely served as a reaction to the success of the Blue album. When Pinkerton was released in 1996 the album was regarded as a commercial failure, compared to the blue album and was even named the worst album of the year by the readers of Rolling stone magazine, making Weezer taking a hiatus for almost half a decade and convincing Rivers to bash the album in interviews done since the band emerged into the scene again with The green album in 2000. The band took a chance with their second album and tried something else instead of replicating the formula from their previous album and made a more emotional album, with lots of character and edge, which despite its poor reception in 1996, since has gone on to be somewhat of cult classic among lots of Weezer fans and even making Rolling stone magazine rearranging their original score to 5/5 starts. The band has since gone back to the more listener-friendly sound found on the first album, (Not counting their Maladroit album, which made a slight hint at the production found on Pinkerton, as well as introducing more heavy metal influenced riffs) and proven to be a very popular band again to a whole new generation of fans, but if you want to know why a lot of the current rock and emo bands of the moment namedrop Weezer as a huge influence and the reason why some bands even formed to begin with, Pinkerton is where to look.