Weezer - Pinkerton
Record Label: DGC Records
Release Date: September 24, 1996
Itís the last day of high school and everyoneís invited to the after party. Underage graduates are gathered around the watering hole and good humor is in the air. Pushing through the crowd, an individual clumsily raises himself onto a patio chair and draws the attention of his former classmates. He was once a wallflower hidden behind his horn-rimmed glasses, but alcohol has lent him courage. To the surprise of those looking on, the slight, quiet young man tosses away his vocal filter and spills forth his suppressed thoughts and emotions. Between spastic outcries he loudly expresses his accumulated heartache, heartbreak, and love of Japanese women. Finally out of breath, the young man ungracefully leaps from his soapbox and confidently stumbles away from the stunned onlookers. This is the voice of Pinkerton.
Pinkerton isnít the kind of album thatís an instant favorite. Itís an album that begs the question, ďWhat were they thinking?Ē The Blue Album, the first album by Weezer, is excellent. The Blue Album has a certain quirkiness to it, but all in all, itís sensible alternative rock thatís easy to love. Most artists would be happy to follow up with more radio hits. Instead, frontman Rivers Cuomo unleashed his inner turmoil on unsuspecting fans. After a lonely time spent at Harvard University, Cuomo was ready to howl all about his oversexed, underloved self.
As I said, Pinkerton isnít immediately appealing, even for fans of The Blue Album. Pinkerton is so honest itís somewhat off-putting. And therein lays its inherent loveliness. Itís easy for an artist to put his best qualities on display when writing a song. He is, after all, in control of the pen. Pinkerton is less a pristine creation and more a series of personal/cockeyed/endearing journal entries. ďAcross the SeaĒ is a response to a Japanese girl who wrote a letter to Cuomo. The song is so sweet and it reeks of such loneliness that one would be forgiven for missing the references to masturbation. Anyone who has felt the terrible clamp of unrequited love can understand ďPink Triangle.Ē Well, you could only really understand it if that unrequited love came courtesy of a lesbian. It could be said that Pinkerton suffers from a lack of universal appeal. After all, how many men can legitimately complain about having too much sex? But while universality can be bland, Pinkerton is never boring.
Songwriting creativity isnít worth much if the music canít keep up. Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar), and Matt Sharp (bass) hold up their end of the album by creating capricious rock anthems. ďGetchooĒ is a slap-you-in-the-face sound that belongs in a dingy basement, inspiring tipsy co-eds to jump and dance sans reservation. Then thereís ďEl Scorcho.Ē The song begins with gurgling and lazy drums. It features silly falsetto and bungling guitar. Whatís not to love? ďEl ScorchoĒ is an unapologetic romp that begs to be sung along to: ďIím a lot like you, so please, / Hello, Iím here. Iím waiting. / I think Iíd be good for you, / And youíd be good for me.Ē A generous dose of alcohol only makes the sing-along better. Trust me on this one.
Not everyone can appreciate an album as oddly wonderful as Pinkerton, and thatís fine. For as many times as Iíve heard these songs, I still canít help singing along to them as Iím attempting to write this review. Pinkerton occupies a special place in rock & roll history. Itís a place where funky dudes and half-Japanese girls can party down all night long without inhibition. If fate were to strand me on a desert island and leave me with only one album to listen to till the end of my days, the choice would be easy. Iíd be singing, ďIím dumb, sheís a lesbian. / I thought I had found the oneÖĒ