As Bootsy likes to remind me, Weezer basically sucks these days. Sure they’ll have a decent song here or there (Hashpipe anyone?) but one could argue that they’ve been mailing it in for a while (Hurley…really?). However, Weezer still has a decent fan base, a base built on their first release and ironically enough, it’s follow up, Pinkerton. At its core Pinkerton is basically about love, sex, disillusionment, and relationships. However it is written from the perspective of a young man struggling with fame and its impact on having mature relationships with the opposite sex.
When Pinkerton first came out in 1996 it was considered a big disappointment. Fresh off the heels of the “Blue” album, which included the novelty hit and video Buddy Holly, Weezer’s second album seemed to fall into the sophomore slump category. There wasn’t a quirky hit like Buddy Holly or The Sweater Song and the first released single, El Scorcho, was musically hard to listen, sing along, or dance to. The whole album had a harder edge to it and some of the songs seemed to be in a minor key, which also made it difficult to immediately embrace. In fact Rolling Stone readers voted it the 3rd worse album of 1996. The album’s negative reception was hard on the band (mainly Rivers Coumo) and it took five years for Weezer to get back into the studio.
The love/relationship songs on Pinkerton are written from the perspective of someone immature in handling relationships. As young men, instead of showing vulnerability, we tend to act cocky, acting like it doesn’t matter, that there’s always another chick to conquer. The singer is befuddled, as men usually are when dealing with the opposite sex, but it’s covered by boastfulness. Tired of Sex is a classic example. The song is about how much tail he’s getting and that it’s all soooo boring. He’s both boasting and wanting something more. Getchoo is a song about a guy who has done his girl wrong but now is surprised she’s not coming back. Why Bother takes it one step backward: He knows he’s going to get hurt in the end, why even start the relationship? It’s just not worth it. It’s a tact many young guys take when deciding whether to enter into a relationship or continue to hang with their bros.
Vulnerability does sneak in toward the end of the album. Across the Sea is about a fan in Japan who would be a perfect girlfriend if she didn’t live so far away (plus there are some bonus mother issues thrown in to boot). Pink Triangle is about falling in love with someone who is unavailable (in this case a lesbian). This song contains the classic line “Everyone’s a little queer, why can’t she be a little straight.” Finally in the album’s second to last song the singer finally finds someone he can settle down with. But it’s a little nerve wracking, he doesn’t want to get his heart broke. The last verse really sums it up:
I'm shaking at your touch/I like you way too much/My baby, I'm afraid I'm falling for you/And I'd do about anything to get the hell out alive/Or maybe I would rather settle down with you.
Despite its initial negative reaction, the album has grown in stature over the last 16 years and is now considered a classic and regarded as Weezer’s best album. In 2002, Rolling Stone readers, just six years after saying it was the 3rd worse album of 1996, voted it the 16th best album of all time! Other music publications have placed it in their top albums of the 90’s lists. Unfortunately for their fans, Weezer has not reached the heights suggested by Pinkerton and are more than willing to put out albums of lesser and lesser quality.