One of the real masterpieces from the ’90s, this is a blazing trainwreck of power pop, punk, and alt-rock that was largely ignored in its day. Pinkerton was released in ’96 to a confused audience that wanted a slick followup to earlier Weezer hits like “Buddy Holly” and “The Sweater Song.” Instead, the quartet issued this raw, brutal album of guitar rock and it pretty much tanked. Then something strange happened – people kept listening and, by word of mouth, the legend of Pinkerton began to grow. The songs were great, the lyrics goofy and ironic, and the lo-fi audio quality infectious. People talk about garage rock a lot, but this album actually sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage or basement. The only truly apt word for this album is “visceral,” and it is beautifully so.
Cue up kick-ass rockers like “Tired of Sex,” “Getchoo” and positively butt-kicking “Why Bother?” to get a sense of Weezer’s slacker-guitar magic. Guitarists Rivers Cuomo and Brian Bell are in prime form throughout, hardly caring if they make a mistake or clash harmonically – the combined fury of their riffing is compelling in its own right. Even long-departed bassist Matt Sharp makes a key contribution, underpinning Cuomo’s pop tunes with thick slabs of fuzz bass.
This being a “deluxe edition,” the two-CD set is fleshed out with an extra 25 tracks, including demos and live tracks from 1995-’97, including three extra versions of their love-gone-wrong epic, “Pink Triangle” (the story of a hapless dork who falls in love with a lesbian).
If you’re new to Weezer, you might think of them as the Cheap Trick of the ’90s, but that’s a disservice – they’re Weezer, plain and simple, one of the most ferocious, yet melodic, bands of the past 20 years. Ultimately, a fresh listen to this opus delivers the greatest gift of all, which is to make us believe in the raw, reckless spirit of rock and roll again. Hallelujah.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.
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