The music scene in 1996, when ‘Pinkerton’ was first released, was dominated by commercially produced pop bands, such as the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. So releasing an album such as ‘Pinkerton’; a gloomy, lo-fi album at best was a risky thing to do, and the risk didn’t pay off. It was an utter and complete failure. Weezer digressed from their normal brand of geek-power-pop that made their ‘Blue Album’ a huge success, but the band can’t be blamed for making a record that felt right for them and they thought worked. Since then though, ‘Pinkerton’ has been collecting better reviews and has become one of the most important releases in Weezer‘s career.
The album was written at Harvard University, where Rivers Cuomo escaped to when he became disgusted and disillusioned with the rock scene. This added interesting aspects to the lyrics, as Cuomo proclaimed himself to be “no Mr. Cool” while writing them. In ‘El Scorcho’ he sings “I’m a lot like you, so please / Hello, I’m here, I’m waitingâ€, expressing his lack of confidence to approach a girl who he has taken a shine to, while ‘Across The Sea’ finds Cuomo sniffing a letter he’s received from a female fan, imagining her touching herself, and this is hardly an image of a rock star, butn more a creepy, lonely guy. These sort of lyrics may feel unprocessed but the imagery and raw storylines provide a glimpse of intimacy. This is why the album got some attention during the rise of emo at the turn of the century.
Bearing in mind ‘Pinkerton’‘s growing fan-base and favourable reviews, combined with the penchant that is rife this year which is the nostalgia for the 90’s and printing re-issues, it seems like the right time for the album to be sold once again. ‘Pinkerton’ may also have a better advantage from the recent trend toward lo-fi recordings. Unlike other lo-fi acts however, Weezer produced the album themselves as they felt they needed a natural sounding album, and needed to be motivated by the creative control and access that producing your own album allows. It was quite a new thing to do too, as most rock bands back then were produced by other people, so Weezer did a brave thing in ditching the bandwagon. The music feel as raw as the lyrics, especially on ‘Getchoo’ where every instrument vies for control, to such an extent that Cuomo‘s voice gets drowned out.
The re-issue comprises 25 tracks but unfortunately most of them are live recordings and radio sessions. None of these sound much different than on the live album, but a highlight is the b-sides from ‘Pinkerton’ along with four previously unreleased tracks. Bonus material aside, the album is solid, or at least interesting enough to be owned, and if you’re a diehard Weezer fan and are looking for four new versions of ‘Pink Triangle’, you’re in luck.
Written by Rhys Milsom