Weezer
Pinkerton


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sean H. CONTRIBUTOR (119 Reviews)
August 6th, 2019 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chapter 2: horny man screams about sex

It's incredibly fitting for Weezer that one of their most celebrated albums is still incredibly contentious and divisive in many listening circles. Pinkerton finds the group’s sound swayed by the emotional ebbs of frontman Rivers Cuomo, turning a once energized alt-rock band into a group of bitter, horny mopers. Originally starting as a space opera titled Songs From The Black Hole, Pinkerton is a record with a messy conception, a messy execution, and an incredibly messy reception. The full-length is somewhere between a vague allegory for Cuomo’s frustration with the success of Weezer (Blue), a modernized retelling of Madama Butterfly (an opera about an American sailor who marries a Japanese woman only to betray her trust,) and Cuomo’s own bitter feelings about love - which manifest in some incredibly unfortunate lyrics about women.

Cuomo’s simplistic and immature attempts to balance a multi-concept record lead to a fundamentally flawed record conceptually. As a retelling of the opera, it misses some marks and includes various songs that seem to be a stretch - “Pink Triangle,” “Across the Sea,” and “No Other One” barely fit and come across as far too desperate to be the story of a risque and promiscuous sailor’s love exploits. As a representation of how fed up the band was with the rockstar life, it’s all too foggy and fails to represent how Cuomo’s thoughts on the music industry (unless Cuomo sees it as a temptation that draws his Pinkerton away from his wife, but that’s a stretch and a half). And, as a showcase of the songwriter’s feelings on love, it comes off creepy, vain, and sexist ("I wonder what clothes you wear to school, I wonder how you decorate your room, I wonder how you touch yourself...”). Really, all of Pinkerton reminds me of the Blue track “No One Else,” but without any of the self-awareness. In fact, the overwhelming lack of a mental filter leads to an overall embarrassing record for Weezer where their naive, flawed mindsets are at center stage.

Yet, there’s something there - something incredibly uncomfortable and wince-worthy, sure - but something that draws me in. Maybe it’s just how intimately bare Pinkerton is as a form of expression, where it really matches just how raw the production and performances are for an alt-pop album is. It’s no grunge rock or whatever, but it has its moments of borderline noise-pop on “Tired of Sex” and “El Scorcho.” But, still, the emphasis is still on pop hooks and earworm melodies that, whether you like it or not, get stuck in your head. Sure, it’s probably not for the best that a song as troublesome as “Pink Triangle” or “Why Bother"” can work into your mental jukebox so easily, but the simple ingenuity of Weezer’s dynamics and songwriting wills it. Blue and Pink aren’t too different in that respect, yet those simple differences make them seem worlds apart. Both records feature tight performances from genuinely talented musicians, tons of overdriven-guitar-lead bombast, moments of both beauty (“Undone - The Sweater Song” and “Butterfly”) and ugliness (“No One Else” and “The Good Life”), and the ability to make me (and many others) feel the emotions that Cuomo puts out there. Yet, a simple change in the recording process - as well as the instrumental and lyrical tones - makes Pink feel a hell of a lot darker, for better or for worse.

Pinkerton is a weird one for me, as I find myself talking more negatively about various lyrical aspects more than I find myself appreciating the passionate intensity to the borderline-emo takes on power-pop. More sour than Blue and anything that would fall afterwards, it’s obvious that Pink was going to be a critically-panned-at-the-time black sheep, one that would go on to be appreciated by some of the same people who wrote it off eventually. Yet, still, it’s hard to say it was misunderstood, because, at its core, it’s very simple. Cuomo really likes Asian women and is very upset about his sex-life/relationships. Any attempt at metaphor or symbolism doesn’t fall far from the Rivers is horny and angry tree. In that way, Pinkerton has a fundamental misunderstanding of healthy relationships with women and I think that is reflective of what Cuomo was experiencing at the time. Don’t get it wrong, though, elements of River’s detailed and intimate writing style shines through on certain songs. The bitter nature of the 90’s was obviously going to catch up to them and lead to a more cynical album In that respect, this record has aged poorly, but at the same time it still works to elicit emotions from the listener, which is definitely the goal.

I think as I’ve spent more time with Pinkerton, the more I can see why so many people love it and so many people hate it. It’s a very passionate and potent record, which was always going to lead to a very potent and passionate response from listeners. It’s also a very immature record, but in much less of a fun way than Blue - this is the ugly side of being a lonely loser whereas the record had much more levity. Some (younger) listeners can relate to Weezer’s awkward heart pangs, but some more experienced fans see their exclamations as entitled and generally overwrought. Their attitudes towards women, the bitter expressions of love/sex, and the interworkings of classic operatic references, industry-frustration, and moments of genuine heart-bearing emotion all lead to a controversial record of strangely big proportions. It’s objectively flawed and messy, but so was Weezer at this point. There’s something there though - it’s like reading through someone else’s diary and seeing their deepest thoughts - that makes it one of the most unique pop albums of the 90’s. Weezer has tried to return to Blue, but never Pink. It’s a record that I don’t think anyone could recreate and I think they know this. It’s wholly scared, shaken, enamored, bitter, cold, loving, careless, shallow, and broken. The puzzle pieces barely fit together, but they still make something interesting.



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user ratings (3377)
Chart.
4.4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


2870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks to Nocte and Slex.

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/3jWhmYMAWw5NvHTTeiQtfl?si=qOFhzFU2TSGcocObMOxkCA

Previous review: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/79911/Weezer-Weezer/

Next review: coming soon

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bbgames
August 5th 2019


563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck weezer

Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


2870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no one wants to fuck weezer, that's their whole thing

J() Alexander
August 5th 2019


7901 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Let me 1.0 this.

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granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


941 Comments


good review. expansive, feminist, and interesting - hooked me into reading the whole thing despite me not caring about the band at all lol

granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


941 Comments


also good summary and recs

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2019


9926 Comments


niiiiiiice

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 5th 2019


42371 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

very good review and you detailed your mixed emotions super well bloon



Weezer has tried to return to Blue, but never Pink. It’s a record that I don’t think anyone could recreate and I think they know this.




counterpoint: Do you Wanna Get High? but I know what you mean, they could never recreate it across a whole album and it would come across pandering if they tried

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Kompys2000
August 5th 2019


3046 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Fantastic review, I think we have pretty similar perspectives on this but differ in how palatable we find the end product

luci
August 6th 2019


11499 Comments


quality gen z take on this record

50iL
August 6th 2019


5221 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great review, I basically agree with you but side more with Kompys

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Gyromania
August 6th 2019


28202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"quality gen z take on this record"



lol yep

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2019


7866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Seriously ugh can’t a guy write songs about using fan mail to jack off in peace?? Fucking white knights

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Gyromania
August 6th 2019


28202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I wonder what clothes you wear to school, I wonder how you decorate your room, I wonder how you touch yourself...”



this is apparently sexist lul

tectactoe
August 6th 2019


928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

all of my wat

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gryndstone
August 6th 2019


1334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Is Pinkerton incel-core

Bloon
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2019


2870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ya probably

gryndstone
August 6th 2019


1334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Essential incelcore

bloc
August 6th 2019


57026 Comments


Few nice songs on this, always thought it was overrated tbh

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Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 6th 2019


56891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm tired

so tired

I'm tired of haaaaaving Donald Trump as president

so tired



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