Review Summary: A great leap from the debut to this. Much darker music, almost every song in a minor key and a good handful of the great musicians that is Weezer.
Dark, heavy and over-emotional is how one might describe Pinkerton when compared to the masterpiece that is the self-titled debut. No doubt the description is true, but it goes far deeper than that. The excellent musicianship still shines through on Pinkerton, and the Rivers Cuomo / Matt Sharp song writing duo is as strong as ever, filling the album with tasteful solo’s, well written dual harmonies and plenty of rocking riffs and fills. In the fall of 1996 after rivers’ had attended a year at Harvard, Weezer returned to the studio to record their second album. Originally labelled ‘Worst album of the year’ by Rolling Stone magazine, in all its obviousness Pinkerton is an alternate rock masterpiece compiled by great musical minds. Pinkerton loosely follows the concept of Madame butterfly, the basic storylines being a man called Pinkerton not returning home to his wife after having an affair, and it all ending with Madame butterfly committing suicide; hence track ten ‘Butterfly’. This concept may have had something to do with the way Rivers felt at the time, since he has ensured he writes what he’s feeling at the time.
Pinkerton kicks off with ‘Tired of Sex’, a classic Weezer rocker. Matt’s bass progressions are still fantastic, and he helps us indulge into Pinkerton with a clean catchy progression, until the song breaks and a very inviting duo of distortion kicks in and joins the bass. Rivers trys his luck at a few screams/wails that really does compliment the raw garage sound to create a solid opening track. Next up is ‘Getchoo’. A song about being played around by a girl and being toyed with. As usual we can easily relate to Rivers’ lyrics, as most of us have all been there before. The chorus uses a nice minor progression, which is used on many of the tracks to give the album it’s darker, twisted feel. ‘No other one’ is beautiful song about being in love despite obvious troubles and chemistry. The song takes on a very grungy feel with a soft melodic verse and a heavier distorted chorus. Rivers’ uses his signature wail very effectively, pouring out masses of emotion when he yells ‘No there is no other one, I can’t have any other one!’. The dual harmonies on the guitars follow the vocal structure and add a great deal of texture to the song. Overall, another ace track.
Next up is the pure power punk of ‘Why Bother’. At barely two minutes long it gets straight to the point with nice punky powerchord shapes and a traditional catchy as hell Cuomo solo. Rivers’ vocals are exceptional on this track, at points hanging at the very top of his range. Short and Sweet. Next is the hugely emotional ‘Across the Sea’. Vocally the song is about a girl who takes a great interest to Rivers, wanting to know all about him and to be with him forever. A few of the lyrics are twisted, as Rivers states ‘I winder how you touch yourself and curse myself for being across the sea.’ The song seems to jump from the speakers and send shivers down my spine every time I listen. The solo is perfectly fitting and the soft piano based bridge to the angry build up leads to the perfect cadence of a perfect song.
Next is a single from the album, ‘the good life’ is a fairly generic pop-punk song about and old man trying to re-live his youth. The verse is a simple two chord upstroke patter leading to a barchord pattern chorus. The song seems to lack fills and the solo is very generic. The cadence is very similar to across the sea, as it loses tempo and get much softer. The initial cadence is of mediocre standard, not a very strong track. However, to counter the weaker preceding track ‘El Scorcho’ provides us with great vocal harmonies from the entire band, a massively catchy arpeggiated barchord riff and some great sing a long vocals; ‘I’m a lot like you so please, hello, I’m here, I’m waiting!’ The bridge is fantastically energetic and Matt Sharps bass puts the icing on the cake with some great pentatonic progressions. Ending with a heart-felt ‘WOO-HOO!’ El Scorcho is one of the strongest tracks on Pinkerton.
‘Pink Triangle’ is a phenomenal song about a somewhat taboo subject of falling in love with a lesbian. Plenty of lead licks are present to counter the lyrics, and the rhythm uses some of the most beautiful chords known to man. Rivers’ dark sense of humour shines through with lyrics such as ‘ If everyone’s a little queer, why can’t she be a little straight?’ The highlight of the song is definitely Brian and Rivers’ dual harmony, which is slow paced with lots of bluesy bends and an overall sombre feel. Definitely a Weezer classic. ‘Falling for you’ is a solid track, yet doesn’t seem as special as the other tracks, simply because it sounds like a weaker version of ‘Pink triangle’. The solo however is one of the most ear-friendly on the album, incorporated with whistles and some nice tremolo picking and bending. Yet another song about falling in love, but that’s one of the reasons why I love this album.
The closing track ‘Butterfly’ is a very simple song. Simple chords, simple vocal patterns, and simple licks in E minor, but that doesn’t stop this from being some of river’s greatest work. Purely acoustic and the only track on the album apart from’ falling for you’ that follows the theme of Madame butterfly. I can only describe it as the perfect closure for this album, the lyrics cry with emotion and you can feel Rivers’ pain pouring from every strum, phenomenal.
Pinkerton is one of last decades must own albums. Another great composition of songs from Weezer taken from a completely different angle. Completely original and very well written. Weezers musicianship shines through on every track and the tracklisting wouldn’t be as free flowing any other way. =w=
Tracklisting and ratings
1. Tired of sex 4/5
2. Getchoo 4/5
3. No other one 4.5/5
4. Why Bother 4/5
5. Across the sea 5/5
6. The Good life 3/5
7. El Scorcho 5/5
8. Pink triangle 5/5
9. Falling for you 3.5/5
10. Butterfly 5/5