Record label: DGC Records
Release date: September 24, 1996
Misery is a narrative people love grabbing a hold of when discussing an artist’s work. Too many times, it seems like a story’s built up to glorify the idea that an artist must face constant struggle in order to create quality work. The Rolling Stones evading tax payments and getting ripped on heroin every day in a French chateau recording Exile On Main Street is a great story, but it doesn’t make it a better album than Beggars Banquet. Other times, the story is needed for context, as a way to explain what the hell happened to the artist you loved. Weezer’s Pinkerton is an album that needed the context.
After hitting it big with their self titled debut album (which is commonly referred to as “The Blue Album”), Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo found himself disenchanted with his dreams of becoming a rock star, so looking for a way to get away from that life, he enrolled in Harvard. And once he experienced so much isolation at Harvard, he wanted his newfound loneliness to be expressed through the sound of the new album that Weezer had started working on between semesters. Yes, that sounds like the premise to an annoying Jesse Eisenberg movie, but this is how it actually happened.
Pinkerton is so raw and emotional that it left fans confused, angry, and as time went by, wildly captivated. Contrary to “The Blue Album”, you’re not supposed to like or even relate to Cuomo on every song. “No Other One” is the anti -“Buddy Holly”. It’s an ode to settling for a girl he barely even likes all for the sake of not being alone. “Pink Triangle” is the only example of a woman spurning his advances, and she gets the standard overconfident male treatment of being called a lesbian when she does. Because naturally, she must be a lesbian if she doesn’t want to have sex with him.
Gone from Pinkerton were the dreamy nerd baiting lyrics of “In The Garage”. Instead, you’re getting “Tired Of Sex”, where you have to listen to Rivers complain about getting a bunch of meaningless doinkage from fans while getting some downright impressive shredding done on the guitar. But aside from that one #RockStarProblem, the relatability is still there, if not more prominent. It’s just a different, less enviable type of connection Cuomo is making on Pinkerton. Just like with “The Blue Album”, you can find a bit of yourself in this record, but you won’t be seeing the parts you can romanticize to others about.
As the years passed, the initial shock of such a different sounding Weezer has faded. The darkness of the album proved to be influential to a score of emo pop bands over the next decade. And it’s arguably the last time the band was this intriguing.
This is the problem I have as a fan: it’s amazing that Rivers Cuomo is in a better place in life. And it’s reprehensible to ever wish depression on anyone. But I do miss the days when Weezer made interesting music. It’s the kneejerk reaction I got when listening to the band’s latest single, “King of The World”, a fine and catchy song that evinces an album filled with songs of the same ilk. Is there going to be any semblance of an identity to it, though? Because that’s what so frustrating with the straight and narrow consistency Weezer went back to after Pinkerton. A lot of Weezer’s new songs are really good, but they don’t have a time and place. These albums could have been made any time between “The Green Album” and Everything Will Be Alright In The End. Pining for a time in Weezer’s career when they were at their most unpredictable just happens to go back to a time when Cuomo was at his absolute darkest. Pinkerton was the last time I had no idea what to expect from them. Oh, the excitement unsure mental health can bring!
It’s an incredibly selfish impulse to have and it’s lead to me thinking about that commonplace fan phrase of “I miss the OLD shit.” A lot of the time, that sentiment is rooted in schadenfreude. Kanye West is a married father of two. At this point in time, do fans really expect his personal life to go up in flames just so they can get another 808s And Heartbreak? I think there needs to be a deeper appreciation for the work these artists have already given us. The rest should be considered gravy. Because at some point, artists have to stop sacrificing their happiness for ours.
Article by Gregory Cala.
For more news and updates about Weezer, follow LIKEYOUSAID on Facebook.