Review Summary: An emotionaly-charged album that is definently not for the fient of heart or Weezer-pop fan.
In 1994, under the DGC label, (Geffen; possibly the largest distributor of music in the U.S) Weezer released their debut album "Weezer", or to many "The Blue Album". It was full of songs about love in an era of grunge filled despair, it defined nerd rock of the era, and its pop-friendly songs gave radios an easy target for "Most Promising New Artists" lists. It also garnered 4 MTV awards, a feat for a young band like them. It spawned a debut video directed by directorial giant Spike Jones. It debuted at 16 on the charts and went platinum almost immediately (as of now, three times over). Fast forward two years and the four are back with their new album Pinkerton. The initial reaction was belated due to its release being meddled by a lawsuit against copyright infringement. When it was released, fans hated it, the radio stations would hardly play the singles off of it, (El Scorcho received moderate airplay, but soon left the public ear, while The Good Life and Pink Triangle were not even known to be singles to the general public) and Rolling Stone called it "The Second Worst Album of 1996". Rivers Cuomo even had to go as far as apologizing for the album's release, saying it was a mistake. Weezer disappeared from the public eye and it seemed as if the band was gone for good, to be forever labeled as a "15 minutes of Fame" band. (Warhol's famous philosophy.thats right philosophy)
Fast-forward even further to 2001 and Weezer weaved their comeback album "Weezer" or "The Green Album", on which they return to their original formula of Ric Ocasek producing and pop song domination. The lead single "Hashpipe" let everyone know, Weezer was back, and soon a new generation of fans came to light along with some older ones. But one question still itched on everyone's minds, "Will they repeat their experimentation?" As it turns out, they stuck with what they were known for and they now continue on the train track of their success, completely steady, maybe even gaining speed. But what about Weezer's sophomoric effort? Did Pinkerton just disappear like the band did for 5 years, just never to come back? The answer was written all over the Weezer website: "Give us more Pinkerton!" People gave the Album a new listen and were enthused with what they blatantly mislabeled as trash. The albums dark, scratchy sound gave something for many to relate to. Rolling Stone even gave it a new review, 5 out of 5, and put it in their Hall of Fame. Now Weezer is hounded by "Pinkerton Junkies" wanting more Pinkerton-era music, or more specifically, "Songs from the Black Hole", the Space-themed Rock Opera that Pinkerton was originally planned to be. But why are people so aroused by the once called trash? Why are they so dumb-founded at the second listen?
The answer lies in the music itself. Pinkerton's dark and gloomy feel was haunting; it was a complete turn from their more pop-oriented debut. Its production was sloppy, its lyrics were full of sexual frustration, lesbians, and angst, its bass was overdriven, and its guitars sounded like chainsaws at some points. And people craved it, they identified with Rivers's angst and rejection, they were in awe of his autobiographical lyrics that were full of gloom and drone, and they were shocked by his brutal honesty in the songs. Pinkerton is now a cult classic because of the people’s views and it has even been connected with the second wave of emo music, and is a prime example of how the band's sound is mistaken for emotive heart. (Some still call them that, even viewing Rivers as a very depressed individual; which he’s not)
Pinkerton starts out with "Tired of Sex", a droning tune of how he is tired of having sex, and wants to actually find love, even stating the names of those he was going to have sex with:
Monday night I'm making Jen,
Tuesday night I'm making Len,
Wednesday I'm making Catherine,
It carries with it a heavy bass, a synthesizer, and guitars that have vastly improved since their debut. Next is "Getchoo" is a song about a man trying to get is girlfriend back but soon saying that "What I did to you, you've done to me". No Other One opens up with the build up of a sound wall then a yell by Cuomo. The song ensues with a strong bass and a hollering ala Rivers, Sharp, and Bell. "No Other One" is a tale of his yearning for love, yet his inability to gain it from the one girl he had a chance with. A ballad type finish accompanies it with wailing by Cuomo, which shakes the foundations of this album on an emotional level, but with a melodic spark. "Why Bother" is almost a complete change of pace lyrical wise to No One Else. In it, he speaks of his love as only sexual attraction and the relationship will only end in chaos as it has "twice before", so he'd rather keep "whakin'". Instrumentally it follows the albums overdriven bass line with spurratic guitars that compliment each other perfectly.
"Across the Sea" is the turning point from the early start of sexual frustration into the boundaries of love, yearning for it, yet never reaching it, and "Across the Sea" accompanies these categories perfectly. It starts with a piano, then a lone guitar, then slowly builds as Rivers sings of his love being across the sea, a real-life reference of a letter he received from a fan in Japan (also it plays on his affinity for Asian women, as previous songs as "Buddy Holly" have shown.) Soon it bursts into a melody and gives catchy lines like:
I've got your letter,
You've got my song
Then comes "The Good Life", the second single from the album. It is my personal favorite on the album, and Weezer song in general. It is a bass driven song about a man who remains stuck on the past, wishing he could go back. The video for the song also gives off the feel of this yearning, as a pizza girl is shown to have quite the mundane and melancholy day filled with mistakes and daydreaming. After that comes a slap in the face, "El Scorcho", the lead single from the album. It contains a mild "Neon Genesis Evangelion" reference with the lines:
Goddamn you half-Japanese girls,
Do it to me every time,
Oh the redhead said you shared the cello,
And I'm Jello ba-by.
These lines refer to Asuka, a half Japanese, half German girl with red hair, and Shinji, the main character, who played cello. It is a very upbeat song, which sets it apart from the record. It follows the idea that something so trivial such as liking the same opera (Madame Butterfly) or not knowing who Green Day is can spark the love for another. After the upbeat "El Scorcho" comes the dark and mournful "Pink Triangle". It was the third and final single from the album and perhaps the defining sound of the album. It is a song of how he finds a girl he loves, and her sexual preferences keep him from her, and he questions:
Everyone’s a little queer,
But can't you be a little straight?
Its rough sound might come off as unappealing to some, but to others its a graceful song about the doomed relationship. Soon the album starts to wind down with "Falling For You", really a low-point of the album. "Butterfly" is most likely the most important part of the album. It sums up all of Rivers frustrations, fears, yearnings, and puts into an acoustic track that will haunt you after the listen.
Pinkerton is a must listen. It may be a little dark for your liking. You might even believe the public and call it trash. But beyond its rough exterior lies an album which houses the emotions of a man who has been thrown aside, kicked around, and turned down. It truly is a classic case of an album being too deep for some to be interested in.