Weezer to re-issue righteous cult fave Pinkerton
The announcement that Weezer's emo-rock masterpiece Pinkerton will be reissued this fall was welcome news at An Affront to Serious Music Criticism HQ. Weezer's sophomore album and Sebadoh's Harmacy pretty much defined the autumn of 1996 for this writer, but of the two, Pinkerton is the one that's still up on the bookshelf behind me.
Photographic memorists of a certain age will recall that in the early-to-mid 1990s, everyone owned Weezer's 1993 debut, The Blue Album . That thing was everywhere , ubiquitous in bulky Case Logic binders, splashing loud colors in Spike Jonze videos on MTV, blaring from speakers at house or frat parties. Almost every song on it was a single, it seemed: "Say It Ain't So," "Undone," "In The Garage." In an era of melodic tumult, fashionable angst, and ripped flannel, the relatively well-adjusted Blue Album seemed to harken back to a gentler, simpler era where men were men, the Beach Boys were studs, and the whole point of rock music was to entertain and mirror the hopes, fears, and dreams of its audience. It was good, clean All-American fun, like the Proclaimers' cover of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" or scarfing down McDonalds' cheese burgers.
Thus, three years later, when Weezer abandoned its vintage, surfboard-rack mounted, wood-paneled station wagon and Ocean Pacific jams for a matte black 1970 Chevy Nova and a leather jacket, Blue Album apostles were somewhat taken aback, to put it lightly. No-one was sure what to make of how loudly and lustily front man Rivers Cuomo flaunted his deepest, darkest desires and urges on Pinkerton, with chords and crescendos as conflicted and anxious as the sentiments they carried.
The album was a qualified hot mess, embarrassing and trashy and debauched and careless, full of peculiarities familiar to anyone who's ever been or known a) dudes in the 18-26 demographic, b) overly dramatic dudes, and/or c) dudes inordinately fascinated by young Japanese women. That Pinkerton didn't exactly fly off record-store shelves - remember those? - was one of several well-documented reasons that Weezer effectively vanished.
(As a side note, I bought my first copy of Pinkerton on cassette.)
Since the band's re-surfaced in 2001, it's become clear that that matte black 1970 Chevy Nova might as well have been the one Kurt Russell drove in Death Proof: Weezer's cultural stock has soared, and its myriad ambitions - kooky videos, unlikely collaborations, oddball songwriting credits for Cuomo, consistent media attention that isn't always completely warranted - have been rewarded. Meanwhile, Pinkerton steadily amassed a cult following stronger than any other album Weezer released, and you can bet that cult will be all over the forthcoming reissue like Cuomo on an issue of Japanese Penthouse.
Won't you join me for a quick trawl through (some of) Pinkerton's garden of pathos-bearing delights?
Tired of Sex - If Pinkerton's color-drained cover-art didn't clue you in that this was a different Weezer, the hint of sulfuric feedback that kicked off "Tired of Sex" should've. The drums kick harder, the bass throws roundhouses, Cuomo quietly bemoans all the nookie he's been scoring on tour - then he's yelling at you about it, almost blaming you, stomping all over his own vocal chords. "Thursday night I'm making Denise/Friday night I'm making Therese/Saturday night I'm making Louise," he bitches, writhing in despair, "So why can't I be making love come true?" By my rough calculations, Cuomo was having more random groupie sex that 98.9% of the guys who bought Pinkerton, so his actual coitus probably was equivalent to how much his audience masturbated, on a daily basis, over co-ed classmates who couldn't be bothered to give them the time of day.
Getchoo - A grinding, blaring paean to codependence so intense that it's scary. Vaguely racist? Maybe, maybe not.
No Other One - I always like to think of this lurching, snarling thrasher as the dark twin to "No One Else" from The Blue Album, maybe it's creepier, sad-sack sequel.
Across The Sea - Icky, TMI over-share anthem about Cuomo wishing he could bone teen girl fans in Japan who write him letters on delicate stationary. You've gotta admit, though, it takes real guts to put a song like this out there, on a national pop platter, for people to snicker at and be grossed out by and maybe relate to on some level they won't admit to.
El Scorcho - Cuomo and company say "fuck political correctness," sorta anticipate rap-rock's mainstream dominance (yeah, I know, Rage Against The Machine were already massive), make it seem like it's cool to have not heard of Green Day, stand outside the house of an Asian-American chick classmate with a huge boom box Lloyd Dobler style, roundly embarrass themselves so you don't have to. If you wanted to sum up Limp Bizkit for someone who'd never heard them, all you'd have to do is play "El Scorcho."
Pink Triangle - This is more or less a generic "I adore this girl, but she's gay" rock song, but it resonated - and continues to resonate - because the majority of hetero dudes have had that experience at least once, myself included.
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