Some records must see the light of failure before their true colors truly shine. That's the story of Weezer's Pinkerton, the tragic tale of Rivers Cuomo's depression as a rockstar. The album was negatively bashed upon its release, but age has shown the album some love.
Countless people have dreamed of being a rockstar. Nearly everyone has. For Cuomo, the reality of that dream was a punch to the face. The life of a rockstar is a lonely one; surrounded by hundred of people who spend their thirty second conversations with you asking you to sign various parts of their body. The rest of the time is spent on a tour bus, waiting to get to the next city to repeat the process.
That monotony becomes boring and sad, so any glimpses of love and hope mean the world to the person going through that. Much of the album sees Cuomo singing on behalf of that premise; take 'Across The Sea', for example. Whilst writing the album, Cuomo was going through a lot. Extensive surgery to fix his shorter leg, physical therapy, and lonely nights whilst depressed at Harvard University, taking a class on classical composition. While at Harvard, a fan from Japan sent him a letter asking questions. This seemingly innocent outreach to him meant the world to him, as he ended up falling in love with this girl who he knew nothing about, separated by a continent and a the vast Pacific. The first verse lyrics even include some of the contents of the letter: "And you wanted to know / All about me / And my hobbies / My favorite food / And my birthday." When you're alone, the smallest gestures make the biggest impacts.
In the same way, those big impacts won't always be positives. Love often seems to be the cause of, or the tragic result of, this specific loneliness. A lust for it builds, and it takes over. The second half of the album discusses this idea: 'Pink Triangle' is about falling in love with the wrong person (in Cuomo's case, falling madly in love with a girl who turned out to be a lesbian), for example. There's also a bit of awkwardness in the attempts to find that love. See lead single 'El Scorcho', which has become a modern emo classic. It's about two people who are very much alike, Cuomo simply putting in a sweet put awkward way, "I think I'd be good for you / And you'd be good for me." The best lines are often times the simple ones - and there's no telling how many confused high schoolers have related to this one.
The album was originally rejected upon its release for being far more abrasive than the band's debut. It was, after all, a big style change at such a quick rate. The pop rock vibes of The Blue Album didn't transition over to Pinkerton. Instead, the album is brought in by the big, distorted riffs of 'Tired Of Sex', complete with an electrifying solo. Cuomo sings about the fun of life is being drained away by his rockstar life - particularly sex. The next song 'Getchoo' continues with the powerful, distorted riffs with the lyrics seethe with jealousy.
There are moments on the record that do step away from the anger and distortion that made it less approachable. 'No One Other' is far sweeter, and while still not quite as agreeable as their debut sound, is has an overall sweeter sound as Cuomo sings about the girl meant for him, and how all of her flaws make her that much more perfect. 'Falling For You' is the same, if not a bit more energetic, appropriately discussing falling in love. The album's ending is 'Butterfly', the band's only commercially released acoustic track, which calls back to the story of the album's inspiration: the opera Madame Butterfly. The song is an apology to the character's - Pinkerton's - wife as he sees the pain and suffering he has caused her. This message is a bit different as Rivers sings it - it's less specific, and more of an open apology to everyone he has hurt along the way of life.
Pinkerton is a classic not because of its music, per se, but because of its message. There are few albums that can so accurately describe the confusion and emptiness of finding love. Weezer, or perhaps just Cuomo himself had written the album that the 90s truly needed - something that would resonate not with the angst-ridden or the madly in love, but the tragic souls caught between the two, and that's still what stands today. Pinkerton isn't the sound of a generation. It's the sound of part of our lives.
Favorite Tracks: Across The Sea, No Other One, Pink Triangle
Least Favorite Track: Why Bother?
Rating: 87 / 100