Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rocktober Album #5: Weezer - Pinkerton (1996)

In case you haven't heard, Weezer is going on tour and doing something even more awesome than a standard Weezer concert. Depending on the night, they are playing either the Blue Album or Pinkerton in its entirety, followed by a "greatest hits" set and songs from their new album, Hurley.

Everyone knows the so-called Blue Album – the band's 1994 self-titled debut album that features "Buddy Holly," "Say It Ain't So," and "Undone (The Sweater Song)." It's a classic and, in my opinion, one of the best albums of the '90s.

The band's follow-up to the Blue Album was 1996's Pinkerton, which was self-produced and went all but unnoticed by critics and mainstream audiences, until finally gaining kind of a cult following over the last ten to twelve years. Now, it's generally revered by fans and critics as an influential and fantastic album, and it's gained almost mythical status.

Much of Pinkerton was written while Cuomo was giving Harvard a try. You see, after the success of the Blue Album, he decided to go to Harvard for shits and giggles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, after a nonexistent music career, I didn't go to Harvard.

The album is a pile of pent-up frustration being unleashed on the world set against a catchy rock background. It's raw, it's emotional, and it's pretty fucking good. Amazingly, I still don't think it's gone platinum in the US. It's almost like an inside joke amongst music lovers.

1. Tired of Sex
Who writes a song saying he's tired of having sex with groupies? Rivers Cuomo does. I fucking love this song, from the fuzzy intro to the primal screams. It smacks with desperation, but the opposite type of desperation you usually hear in a song. Yesterday, I talked about the use of anticipation in rock songs, in relation to Cream's "I Feel Free." The same thing is going on here. After a relatively subdued first verse that feels like it's building toward something, Cuomo unleashes all his frustration and belts out the next verse/chorus, which is followed up by a short but sweet guitar solo.

2. Getchoo
This is a solid, biting hard rock song about breaking up.

3. No Other One
It starts off with guitars that sound like a rocket ship, or so I assume, and a scream. The verses are tame, and the choruses are angry.

4. Why Bother?
This is a classic Weezer power pop song. It's catchy and it rocks, and of course, it's about not wanting to get into a relationship because it's doomed from the start.

5. Across the Sea
"Across the Sea" is a good song with a good back story. While at Harvard, Cuomo got a fan letter from a female Japanese fan. Depressed that he wasn't going to meet her, he wrote a song instead.

6. The Good Life
This is Cuomo's "I'm back" song after living a self-described "ascetic life" at Harvard. It's another solid, catchy song that rocks. I love the chorus: "And I don't wanna be an old man anymore /It's been a year or two since I was out on the floor / Shakin' booty, makin' sweet love all the night / It's time I got back to the good life."

7. El Scorcho
One of the better opening lines for a song: "God damn you half Japanese girls / Do it to me every time." This song is apparently about Cuomo's inability to talk to some chick he had a crush on at Harvard. I would have been all, "I'm Rivers Cuomo. I'm in a very successful rock and roll band. You've seen my videos. My songs kick ass. I am a nice person. I am also intelligent, as evidenced by the fact that I got into Harvard. Let's grab a beer and shag."

8. Pink Triangle
This is just your average song about a guy who falls in love with a lesbian. "If everyone's a little queer / Can't she be a little straight? / I'm dumb / She's a lesbian / I thought I had found the one / We were good as married in my mind / But married in my mind's no good / Pink triangle on her sleeve / Let me know the truth." Awesome.

9. Falling for You
Another solid rock song with a seemingly angry chorus that is, at the same time, loving. "You say 'like' too much." I like that line. Unfortunately, this is not on

10. Butterfly
This is a slow, acoustic song -- the band's post-coital cigarette after the first nine songs.

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