As tradition goes (twice is good enough), I shall end my week-long rhapsodize about a specific band by ranking their discography.
Death To False Metal will not be included on this list. Just the nine studio albums. So let us begin:
9. Raditude (2009)
This album is an absolute disaster. The only track I enjoy is the opening track, which looks like it was titled by a mid-2000s emo-pop band.
It’s called “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”. JUST CALL IT “I WANT YOU TO”! Like I said, I like this song. It’s a pretty good intro. But it’s like the 2001 Carolina Panthers, who faked out everyone by winning in the first week and then going on to lose every game. The rest of the album is an absolute catastrophe. Fans of the traditional Weezer sound should take this album as a middle finger. The follow up tracks, “I’m Your Daddy” and “The Girl Got Hot” have absolutely nothing attractive about them. In the latter, they sing of a girl who wasn’t hot in middle school, and is now hot. I don’t think there were any girls that were “hot” in middle school. There were the disgusting ones who smoked cigarettes and gave hand jobs in eighth grade, but they weren’t “hot”.
Track four. Get ready.
Christ what has happened.
And that rap part there…you read that right. “Weezy.” Lil Wayne was in fact in the studio for this song. I’d also like to say that thankfully Rivers didn’t write that song. He did, however, allow it to be put on their album. It was literally written by a drunk guy.
I need to stop talking about this shit storm and get to the albums I enjoy showing off my knowledge of. But the last thing I want to say is that track five, “Put Me Back Together”, sounds like it was written by the All-American Rejects.
Ah, well that’s because it was written by the All-American Rejects. This song actually isn’t half bad, it’s probably the best of the other songs that aren’t the opener. If you dare listen to that album, you’ll see how small of a compliment that is.
“Standout” Tracks: “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”, “Put Me Back Together”.
8. Make Believe (2005)
Brady/Manning. USA/USSR. Jedi/Sith. Stark/Lannister. Blue/Pinkerton. These are some of the greatest power struggles we know as humans. One that may top them all was deciding whether or not to rank Raditude or Make Believe as Weezer’s worst album. And to be completely honest, they’re pretty interchangeable.
I understand that music is completely subjective to the individual. If you like a song or artist that I don’t, then that’s just your taste. There’s no universal principle that says a certain band is infinitely awful.
Okay we can make an exception to that statement. So before I absolutely trash this album, “Beverly Hills”, and “Perfect Situation”, let it be said that if you feel some sort of emotional connection to this album or any song on it, that is your opinion and I respect that. And you may want to skip this section.
But I do not respect shitty music. Especially when it completely alienates a group of dedicated fans and launches an era of uninspiring music that does not evoke the same kinds of emotions that masterpieces like Pinkerton did. Fans did not deserve an album like this (or the next three). This album also exposed the degree to which album reviews from major outlets are actually credible.
I understand this directly contradicts what I just said, but if you’re still reading then you probably agree with me. I’ll never read a Rob Sheffield review again.
1. “Beverly Hills”.
Seriously, what the hell. This song is one of those cogs in the pop machine that Weezer should’ve never been a part of in the first place. Instrumentally, nothing special. Three cord progression. A lackluster guitar solo. I’m not knocking simplicity, I’m knocking simplicity when it doesn’t work and when it follows a fun, upbeat, and experimental album (Maladroit). The degree of separation between Make Believe and Maladroit, compositionally at least, was minimized, and the sound was completely different from the four albums that came before it.
Now, don’t try to say I hate this song because it’s mainstream. I hate a lot of Weezer songs that aren’t mainstream. I love a lot of Weezer songs that are mainstream. Coincidentally, many of the songs I hate are on this album, all of which are just as compositionally and lyrically inferior as “Beverly Hills”.
Look it up, this song isn’t satire either. They aren’t making fun of the lifestyle, and you don’t need to dig too deep to figure that out. And it absolutely is not “positive”.
2. “Perfect Situation”
Admittedly, I liked this song at first. The riff at the beginning is awesome, but that’s the climax right there. It’s like the 2001 Carolina Panthers. One can only handle the oh-AH’s for so long. Really, did you not write a chorus? You couldn’t come up with anything to fill that area? Likely story.
3. “This Is Such A Pity”
The song title pretty much sums it up. Let’s do cool keyboard stuff at the beginning to get your attention, but then play that same thing for the entire song. Gets pretty monotonous after a few minutes.
4. “Hold Me”
At least this song attempts to evoke emotion like Pinkerton did. Too bad it fails completely by using completely meaningless and irrelevant lyrics that don’t go with the instrumental flow of the song at all.
Again, roped in by the intro, and severely disappointed. Like the 2001 Carolina Panthers. Underwhelming lyrics. At least they’re trying to write these songs. Try harder.
6. “We Are All On Drugs”
This is the worst attempt at an anti-drug message ever. It sounds like they’re promoting drugs if anything. Coming from a band with a drummer who once tried to be high for an entire month straight, Weezer aren’t exactly the best anti-drug champions.
I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. The next two tracks are the bright spots: “The Damage In Your Heart” and “Pardon Me”. “Haunt You Everyday” also isn’t bad. Again, not really a far-reaching compliment.
“Standout” Tracks: “Pardon Me”, “The Damage In Your Heart”, “Haunt You Everyday”
7. Hurley (2010)
If you read my 2000-word defense of this album then you know how I feel about. It was a decent album that came out at the wrong time. Like with The Red Album, it’s a decent album that should have been better. You can’t follow up the legendary defeats that were Make Believe and Raditude with just “okay” albums.
But none the less, I’ll sum up the goods like I did a few days ago.
First off, the collaborations in this one were actually good. The right people were brought in this time around. Funny how that works, bring in good musicians and you get good music. This is apparent by tracks such as “Ruling Me”, which was cowritten by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson.
“Trainwrecks” is probably the best song from all the post-Maladroit, pre-Everything Will Be Alright In The End albums. Very well put together song about what apears to be two negatives making a positive. Yes, I just dropped a Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide reference. But if not updating your blog makes you a “trainwreck”, as the track insinuates, then I’ve been a “trainwreck” for the three days it’s taken me to write this.
Lead single “Memories” also is a fun, upbeat, and catchy song about wanting to go back. I think everyone else wants Weezer to go back as well. We’re all done partying.
Besides “Memories”, the only other song without a non-Rivers songwriting credit on this album is “Unspoken”, an acoustic-driven build up track that slowly adds in flutes and strings before the build up to the final chorus, in which the electric instruments and the rest of the band joins in for an explosive finish.
“Hang On” and “Brave New World” lead a “best of the rest” list, as the rest of the album sounds like it was made with a template of some sort. Even those two songs, while catchy and hooky, just seem so typical. The bonus tracks on this album, “Represent” and “I Want To Be Something” should have been on the normal album.
I’d also like to point out that this album was released 11 months after Raditude. Had it not been rushed and been polished up a bit, maybe it would be higher on this list. So again, not a bad album by any means, but not the album that was needed. Weezer can do better than 50%. And as I figured out in my high school Algebra II class, 50% is still an F.
Standout Tracks: “Memories”, “Ruling Me”, “Trainwrecks”, “Unspoken”.
Side Note: I know I said that Hurley was the best of the of the four inferior Weezer albums, but after I listened to and deconstructed The Red Album more, I’ve decided to retract that statement.
6. The Red Album (2008)
Oh, a colored album! Must be good, right?
Well, not completely. I won’t defend this album like I defended Hurley (a part of me wished I did), but it too isn’t as bad as it could have been. It also isn’t as good as it could’ve been. But then again, it’s not that hard to improve on virtually nothing.
There are a lot of good things about this album. But I’m first going to point out how awful some of the lyrics are. Mainly in the two opening tracks: “Troublemaker” and “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”. “Everybody Get Dangerous” is mixed in as well.
See what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, Weezer has had some quirky lyrics that they’ve gotten away with (“Undone”), but these are just bad. Rhyming “art and crafts” with “arts and crafts” is a complete cop out, and no one is trying to see if Rivers Cuomo is having sex. As much as I rave about Weezer’s use of power chords, the two on “Troublemaker” get pretty dull after a while. And that line about stabbing the corpses of road kill is just really f***ed up.
Suddenly, a band that built a career off of being the weirdos and the nerds, and thus identifying with those demographics, are acting like big bad rock tough guys. In this way, the fan base is even further alienated from the band. Although I’ll admit that Scott Shriner is pretty big and muscular.
Track 5, “Heart Songs”, is a tribute to the artists Rivers listened to growing up, which is nice. But you can’t put Rick Astley and Quiet Riot in the same song as John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. There has to be a sense of separation between the two.
Good thing “Pork And Beans” is right smack in the middle of those four tracks to sort of remedy them. It’s become one of Weezer’s most popular songs. Even more than “Beverly Hills”, which is another argument for the whole “me not liking that song” because it’s mainstream. I enjoy “Pork And Beans” very much. The chorus is something to be behold, it’s the heaviness we missed on Make Believe. I just wish there was a solo.
There are tracks on here that the other band members sing lead vocals in. And they’re all pretty good too.
Brian Bell’s “Thought I Knew” is very lively. Driven by the acoustic guitar, he delivers great vocals about a failed relationship in a song that Rivers stole from Bell’s other band, The Relationship.
Scott Shriner’s “Cold Dark World” kind of has a reverse “Today” impact, as it has a very dark sound to it but the lyrics are rather uplifting, although Scott maintains a dreary tone.
Pat Wilson’s “Automatic” is also a decent track. It’s a well-arranged, mid-tempo track about how Pat loves his family. He must’ve been sleeping on the couch before this one because it definitely gets him some brownie points with the warden (I refer to anyone’s significant other as “the warden”).
These three tracks are pretty creative, and, alongside “Dreamin’ (in which Rivers and Brian split the lead vocals with ease), really solidify how lop-sided this album is, comparing these to the front five. Also, Rivers plays drums on these three songs and he’s pretty good at it.
That brings us to “The Angel And The One”, which is easily the best song on this album. It rhymes most of the way through, and kind of has a bluesy build up that’s very similar to “Only In Dreams”. The layering at the end with the Mayer-esque guitar solo and the lines “Peace, shalom” being repeated is very rousing.
If I could, I’d replace the four songs from the beginning with all the bonus tracks. “Miss Sweeny”, “Pig”, “The Spider”, and “King” should’ve been on the original album, not those abominations from the beginning.
As with Hurley, I like about half of this album. But again, Weezer fans deserve better. You can’t just go release two perfect and two magnificent albums and then wing the next four.
Standout Tracks: “Pork and Beans”, “Dreamin'”, “Thought I Knew”, “Cold Dark World”, “The Angel And The One”.
5. The Green Album (2001)
Mikey Welsh looks like he’s going to kill someone. Which he almost did to himself more than once. R.I.P.
Okay Rob Sheffield, you’ve bought yourself some more time on this earth.
DISCLAIMER: I do not think music reviews actually tell if an album is good or not. Nor do certifications. This album went platinum, as did Make Believe. This is all building up to something.
Finally, we’re into the above average territory as far as Weezer albums go. Many people would have placed this ahead of Maladroit, but I’ll explain that in it’s respective section. If WordPress allowed me to do so, I’d put about a hundred spaces between this album and Hurley.
In Ric Ocasek we trust.
This is the first album without original bassist Matt Sharp, who left in 1998 to focus on his band The Rentals. Mikey Welsh, who was in Rivers’ band Homie while he attended Harvard post-Pinkerton, replaced Sharp. Welsh didn’t last long, as Scott Shriner was added shortly after this album was released following a mental breakdown from Welsh.
This is also the end of five years without Weezer, and they stormed back on to the scene with a pretty great album. Obviously the hit singles “Hash Pipe” and “Island In The Sun” are big-time tracks with a lot to show for.
Vivid shades of blue come to mind when listening to this album. Although there are plenty of psychosexual exclamations to be had (“Crab”, “Simple Pages”, “O Girlfriend”), there are many more summery (“Island In The Sun”) and just plain old fun songs on here, much like their 1994 debut.
According to Rivers, much of this album was written almost instantaneous. He just sat down, started playing, and before he knew it he had a song. Fan favorite and opener “Don’t Let Go” was written exactly like this, with the lyrical content really having nothing to do with a personal experience. But still, the tracks tend to work out.
Take “Photograph”, the third single, for example. While there are goofy theories about this song being about oral sex floating around the interwebs, it’s (at least on the surface) about how love is portrayed as perfect, but almost never is. Yet, the composition remains fun and upbeat, even ending with the band laughing, clapping, and whatever that tribal thing is Brian Bell is doing. “Knockdown Dragout” and “Glorious Day” also follow this formula.
So to sum up The Green Album: catchy, upbeat, shades of blue, and the first of the best (on this list). The only drawback I guess for me is that it’s only 28 minutes long, but that’s not really a big deal.
Note: Starting here, I like every song on every album. The “Standout Tracks” will be my my personal favorites combined with the commercially successful singles, most of which I like anyway.
Standout Tracks: “Don’t Let Go”, “Photograph”, “Hash Pipe”, “Island In The Sun”, “Knockdown Dragout”.
Side Note: “Knockdown Dragout” was heavily influenced by Green Day, which is why it sounds exactly like a Green Day song.
4. Maladroit (2002)
Probably the main reason why I place this album above The Green Album is because of how it flawlessly morphed together experimentation with the traditional Weezer sound. I also absolutely treasure the two singles, “Dope Nose” and “Keep Fishin'”. The music video for the latter also features the muppets, a cast of characters everyone enjoys.
But besides these tracks, the album is kind of dark. I suppose I don’t expect much more from a cover of a guy sitting alone on a couch. Songs like “Take Control”, “Slob”, and “Death and Destruction” expose a lot more darkness than much of Weezer’s inventory. This is actually one of the strong points of the album though. All these songs stay catchy and listenable, and I don’t reach for the skip button (unless I’m getting excited to hear Burndt Jamb). Check out this lyric from “Death and Destruction”:
“Every time I call you, you find some way to ditch me.
So I learn to turn and look the other way”.
We’ve all been there before. This line is preceded by a slow-burning intro, and followed by a heavy guitar riff. The drums on this track might be the best on the entire album.
Speaking of the drums, Patrick Wilson’s drumming on this album is pretty amazing. For example, the opening track, “American Gigolo”, features a drum intro that is like nothing else Weezer has ever done before. Again, I mentioned the experimentation aspect of this album. The lyrics of this song are actually quite depressing though, in prime Weezer fashion.
There aren’t as many power chords on here as we’ve seen before on Weezer albums, but instead there are some uniquely placed guitar solos, such as on “Love Explosion” and “Take Control”. There are two songs that don’t even really feature a true chorus, “Burndt Jamb” and “Death and Destruction”. “Space Rock” also doesn’t really sound like anything Weezer released before this album, structurally at least.
Maladroit is the hidden gem of Weezer’s catalogue. I’ll have to say (I sound like a broken record), that it’s pretty interchangeable with The Green Album, as far as this list goes. I’m giving it the edge because of how it’s the only Weezer album with true experimentation (as opposed to blatant disregard for one’s own sound), and it works to perfection. It’s catchy the whole way through, and it’s the last great Weezer album for 12 years. The day I wrote my review for Everything Will Be Alright In The End for the UMass newspaper, I said that it was Weezer’s best album since Maladroit, because this album flat-out rocks and it was a shame we didn’t get to hear anything like it for such a lone time.
Side Note: I have no idea what a “burndt jamb” is. I searched comment sections everywhere with no luck.
Standout Tracks: “American Gigolo”, “Dope Nose”, “Keep Fishin'”, “Burndt Jamb”, “Slave”, “Possibilities”.
3. Everything Will Be Alright In The End (2014)
^ There’s the link to my 4,000 word analysis of this album. But for anyone who doesn’t want to that, I’ll still summarize.
I was on high alert coming into this album. It seems like every time a band says their next album will be “a return to form”, it ends up either not being, or is but just not as good.
Seriously, those three albums were supposed to be “return to form” albums.
Side Note: I like Neighborhoods, it’s just not as good as anything from Enema of the State and on.
But Everything Will Be Alright In The End is finally the album Weezer fans have been waiting for. It is truly the third great album in their catalogue. And fittingly enough, it was produced by Ric Ocasek.
This album is saturated with vocal harmonies, falsettos, power chords, and guitar solos, which, by the way, there was only one of in Hurley. And it was’t even on one of the tracks I liked. But through the first listen of this album, one thing was made abundantly clear to me: I like, if not love, every song on here. “Ain’t Got Nobody” is the 18-year-old specter of “Tired of Sex” everyone has been waiting for. The lyrics are covertly dark and abrasive, with the music creating an atmosphere of hooks setting up for the rest of the album.
Lead single “Back To The Shack” apologizes the past four albums, while ultimately promising to “rock out like it’s ’94”. They immediately live up to this promise on “Eulogy For a Rock Band”, which sings of a fading rock band that has had an immense impact on a lot of people, often inspiring them. They also, again, promise to “sing of melodies that you [probably them] did long ago.
They do this immediately on “Lonely Girl”, a catchy girl song with a nice solo. The following track, “I’ve Had It Up To Here” solidifies that this album was not made with a template. It has a funky beat and absolutely genius lyrics about not compromising their sounds for the universal appeal of the masses. “Don’t want to become the very thing that I despise”. There’s a hilarious line about happy meals too. This song leads into “The British Are Coming”, an anthemic track that may very well just be about the Revolutionary War. The song is acoustically-driven at first, before a spectacular guitar solo that remains pervasive for the rest of the track. The absolutely bombastic finish to this song is why the whistling at the beginning of the cheesy “Da Vinci” is borderline infuriating.
But the album has one of the strongest endings I’ve ever seen on any album. On “Go Away” we finally hear the girl’s side to the story. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast and Rivers’ vocal harmonies are phenomenal. “Cleopatra” should’ve been a more successful single than “Back To The Shack” in my humbly correct opinion. The fusion of Egyptian-influenced sound is impeccable, and the guitar solo is the best yet. “Foolish Father” might be one of Weezer’s best songs. It’s the best ending since album since “Only In Dreams”. The lyrics are a plea for paternal forgiveness, as Rivers recently granted his own father, the same man he lashed out against 20 years ago in “Say It Ain’t So”. The build up to the choral reprise of the album’s title, which is joined by the band members, is absolutely terrific.
And the “actual” ending to the album, “The Futurescope Trilogy” is some of the best composition I’ve ever heard. The build up from “The Waste Land” to “Anonymous” sets up for the fiery explosion of guitar solos and gang vocals in the final recital of it’s chorus. And just when you think it’s over, as you probably did after “Foolish Father”, “Return To Ithaka” kicks in, acting as another emotional stimulant that causes some heavy musical frisson.
This is the only album that I’m not going to say is interchangeable with another. It certainly makes me love it so much more knowing that I was actually around for this one, but we’re not going to get another a perfect album from these guys. I’ll have to say though, we almost did (damn whistling!). But all in all, this is undoubtedly the third spectacular album. It’s barely below the other two.
Standout Tracks: “Ain’t Got Nobody”, “Back to the Shack”, “The British Are Coming”, “Cleopatra”, “Foolish Father”, “The Futurescope Trilogy”.
2. The Blue Album (1994)
I love you.
What the f**k?!?! I demand answers. Sheffield is gone at this point, so I need to figure out who’s head I’m taking for this one. Normally, a four star review is great. But not for this album. This album is pitch perfect. This review is also for the deluxe edition, which included the B-sides Susanne and My Evaline, two songs that are better than any song on any of the “garbage” albums, in addition to many live and/or acoustic performances of these classics, and the Kitchen Tape Demo.
This album is fun. From front-to-back, it’s an album you can listen to over and over again and never get bored with it. The phenomenal guitar intro on “My Name Is Jonas” leads into a song that manifests the story of how Rivers’ brother got in a car accident and was getting screwed over by the insurance company. “No One Else” rides the power chords into the sunset of an immense guitar solo, the first of many to come form this great band. “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here” leaves the narrator of the previous track wondering where his love has gone, with the recurring polyphony of “Do you believe what I sing now?” overshadowing the entire track, before it’s finally unleashed in the forefront of the song’s peak.
Next come the hits we all know and love. Who can forget this?
Possibly one of the greatest music videos ever made. This song is very self-explanatory: Rivers looks like Buddy Holly. And besides creating lingering questions about Buddy Holly’s non-existent relationship with Mary Tyler Moore, this song is a cultural phenomenon.
Next comes “Undone – The Sweater Song”, which may contain the most quirky lyrics of all time. But that just shows how forgiving this band’s fans are, and exactly the type of people that make up their dedicated fan base.
“Surf Wax America” is a top five Weezer song, and a fan favorite. It’s just such a fun, catchy song that also rides the power chords before dropping to just a cymbal and bass alternating beats. Again, a polyphony occurs before the thunderous reiteration of the song’s chorus.
“Say It Ain’t So” comes next. This song needs no introduction. It’s easily the most well-known Weezer song. Lyrically regarding River’s alcoholic father, the song’s chorus is loud and abrasive, while it’s verses are very mellow. The final verse is where you can tell Rivers is exerting some heavy feelings into this song.
“In The Garage” is, besides this album cover, pretty much what labeled this band as nerds. It references the master guide to “Dungeon’s and Dragons”, comic books, super heroes, but also expresses the comfort that comes with these things. That’s why I love this song, because although I don’t really consider myself to be “super nerdy”, I can’t help but identify as such given the following facts:
– I know way too much about the Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and DC Comics universes than I probably should.
– I played an immense amount of video games between the ages of 4 and 16 (Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Star Fox, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, Halo, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Banjo Kazooie, etc).
– I often stay up all night learning how to use vague computer programs.
– I know way too much about a lot of bands and artists (if you don’t take anything from the past week, then take that).
– I often stay up and watch entire concerts on youtube.
– I have a 24 x 36 poster of the members of Blink-182 all in their underwear in my dorm room.
– I know way too much about at least a hundred actors and actresses.
– I watch a lot of sci-fi movies (in addition to all the other movies and documentaries I watch).
– I have a sick obsession with outer space and time that often leads me to being up all night reading about random space/time subjects.
– I run a blog in which I’ve now written a combined over 12,000 words about one band in less than a week.
– I’ve worn glasses my whole life, and I remember in 2006, before it was “cool” to wear glasses, when I was called a nerd for that reason alone and people assumed I was bad at sports for that reason alone.
If that doesn’t scream “bad-ass motherf***er”, then I don’t know what does (I was actually pretty good at football, especially during the middle school era).
Mine were better.
But the point being, I find comfort with these things and I identify with them. That’s why I long for the love of someone who also has embedded themselves way too deep within the personal life of John Mayer, if there’s a non-weird way to do that.
This isn’t your normal rock band, and that’s made clear when the names of the two lesser-known member or KISS are dropped. I wish they would still utilize the harmonica like they do in this song.
And the fun just goes on with “Holiday”. It’s use of doo-wop a cappella echoes the sounds of The Beach Boys, another musical scheme I wish we still heard from these guys. This song was written out of an outburst of excitement after the band was signed to Geffen records.
All good things must come to an end. But “Only In Dreams” is the perfect ending. Songs like “Weight Of Love” wouldn’t exist without this song. This is the best bass line in the history of Weezer. The two minute crescendo of the two guitars, bass, and drums all culminating with the guitar solo that the ending to this masterpiece needed has yet to be surpassed by any other ending to a Weezer album.
I think I pretty much said it all.
1. Pinkerton (1996)
As far as this list goes, the placement of these two albums does not mean I’m picking one over the other. Because that’s not going to happen. I will say that my musical revolution hit when I was in eighth grade, and The Blue Album was one of the first albums I ever listened to in it’s entirety. Weezer instantly became one of favorite bands and Rivers was my twitter picture for over a year, but I never really felt an emotional connection to a band quite like I did after I listened to Pinkerton. I’d listened to “El Scorcho” in the past, but besides that I never really looked into this album. It came to me towards then end of high school, and it was definitely what I needed to hear. While I still love The Blue Album (as I’ve made abundantly clear), I tend to lean towards Pinkerton because of what I just outlined. It really just boils down to personal taste I guess (I’m still not picking one). And I also like how it wasn’t produced perfectly, i.e. the scratchiness at times and even the cracks in Rivers’ voice.
And this is what I’ve been waiting for. So Make Believe gets four stars and Pinkerton gets three? Are you f***ing serious? This is why I don’t trust music reviews. I like to listen and form my own opinion on the album. It’s hard to tell what I would’ve thought had I been as deeply embedded in the music world as I am now when this album was released in 1996. Because back then, EVERYONE HATED IT. Which I guess is kind of understandable, seeing as the first thing they heard following The Blue Album was “El Scorcho”, which translated into English is “The Scorcho”. It’s about the ongoing struggle between making a move, waiting for the other person to make the move, or doing nothing at all. We’ve all been there. There’s no doubt it sounds nothing like anything off of Pinkerton‘s predecessor, but it’s just as good. The composition may sound rather odd, but what else do you expect from Weezer?
Here’s what some critics said about this album upon it’s release:
“In ‘El Scorcho,’ the song’s infectious chorus proves to be slim reward. ‘Tired of Sex,’ a look at a brooding stud’s empty sex life, is as aimless as the subject’s nightly routine.”
—Rob O’Connor, Rolling Stone, September 1996
“Overrated and undercooked, Pinkerton sounds like the smell stink makes.”
—Corey duBrowa, “Sound Check: Sophomore Slumps,” Magnet, December 2007
“Hey boys and girls, can you say ‘one-hit wonders?’ If so, then follow it with Weezer. The band’s second release, Pinkerton , clearly shows Weezer is headed to the graveyard of forgettable bands. Pinkerton is 10 loud, grating songs that are supposed to pass as rock, but sound like trains going over rusty tracks. … Pinkerton fails miserably.”
—Ray Marcano, Dayton Daily News, October 1996
“My advice is to ignore the lyrics entirely.”
—Melody Maker, October 1996
“[Weezer is] either being consigned to oblivion or racing toward it.”
—Associated Press, February 1997
Those hurt to read. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you ignored the lyrics to this album. That’s half the attraction. For any great album, the lyrics should be half the attraction, the other half being the music of course.
Side Note: Rolling Stone released a second review in 2004, and, with their tail between their legs, gave Pinkerton the five star review it deserved.
“Tired of Sex” contains one of the most iconic riffs Weezer fans know. The assertive, energetic sound never made the groupie circuit sound less appealing. I actually might like the rough tracking of this song better than the final album version, it can be heard on the deluxe version of Pinkerton.
“Getchoo”, “Why Bother” and “No Other One” were all originally intended for Songs From The Black Hole, the scrapped follow up to The Blue Album. As with the rest of the album, these all deal with failed relationships. “Getchoo” is about rejection, “Why Bother” is about how Rivers often wouldn’t even approach women because he knew it would end badly anyway, and “No Other One” is about a theoretical girlfriend who abuses drugs, but Rivers won’t abandon out of fear of being lonely. All three songs utilize, guess what, power chords! And what’s interesting is that “No Other One”is actually played in 3/4th timing, a technique not used by Weezer up to this point. The loud, almost space-like technique used on the opening guitar riffs on these first four tracks are faint illustrations of what the album they were originally written for, Songs From The Black Hole, was going to sound like.
While it may be next to impossible to pick a favorite song from this album, let alone a favorite from Weezer’s entire catalogue, “Across The Sea” may likely be my pick for both.
The song is about a fan letter Rivers received from a fan in Japan during that fabled 1995 winter in Weezer folklore, in which Rivers wrote much of the second half of Pinkerton while suffering from bouts of depression while attending Harvard. He instantly fell in love with her, but knew he’d never meet her. But he needed someone. This is the end of the bridge and the final chorus:
“So you send me your love from all around the world
As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams
Oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel.
Why are you so far away from me?
Why are you so far away from me?
I could never touch you – I think it would be wrong
I’ve got your letter and you’ve got my song
I’ve got your letter and you’ve got my song”
Being famous doesn’t make Rivers happy. Having someone that makes him feel wanted makes him happy. And that’s what this 18 year old girl that he’ll never meet represents to him.
That winter at Harvard in 1995 was also when he wrote “The Good Life”. It must be damn difficult hobbling around campus after getting a leg-lengthening surgery and relying on a cane to keep you up. All these college kids wearing Weezer shirts giving you odd looks, and none of them even recognize you. This song is kind of the antithesis to “Tired of Sex”, as in it Rivers longs to return to that life, because at least he won’t be lonely. And how it was not an ultra-successful single is beyond me. How “Beverly Hills” was a number one single and this barely got any airplay is a question only God himself has the answer to. The G major to E minor chord progression at the track’s outset creates a funky beat, and cements it as one of, if not the, most catchy chorus out of any Weezer song:
“I don’t wanna be a 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”
This chorus is especially notable in it’s final iteration, after the guitar solo and the slowing of the tempo, when Rivers unleashes the first line of the chorus before the instruments kick in.
“Pink Triangle”, the third single (that also should’ve been more successful than a certain 2005 single) starts off with what stealthily may be one of Weezer’s best lyrics:
“When I’m stable long enough
I start to look around for love.”
Again, another catchy song with more power chords. While I can’t directly relate to the content about having a crush on a lesbian girl, a friend of mine was once caught flirting with a lesbian girl. No one said anything because it was hilarious. The “married in my mind” lyric is pretty relatable though. For Rivers, he watched a girl he thought was pretty in one of his classes at Harvard for a few weeks, having distinct visions of marriage. One day he noticed a pink triangle pin on her sleeve. Another crushing defeat for Mr. Cuomo.
“Falling For You” returns to the abrasive sound from the first half the album, being almost completely comprised of power chords. By complete coincidence, there was radio interference at the beginning of this track when it was recorded, of what sounds like a woman speaking an Asian language. I would’ve kept it in too, seeing as most of this album is about women, and Rivers clearly has an Asian fetish (the album cover is a Japanese painting). And apparently, even for the band, the complexity of the guitar on this song makes it very difficult to recreate in a live setting, but they usually manage.
The final track, “Butterfly” is still Weezer’s only completely acoustic song. It’s the subtle ending that was needed following the tidal wave of psychosexual contortions discharged by the previous nine tracks. But the song is truly beautiful, and it’s entirety is a direct reference to the opera Madame Butterfly, in which the character Pinkerton marries Butterfly for all the wrong reasons. She’s 15 and he treats her as an object, although she truly loves him and cares about their marriage. Pinkerton leaves Butterly for three years, saying he’ll return when “robins make his nest”. “I’m sorry for what I did” references when Pinkerton finally returns with an American wife, only to realize how much Butterfly actually loved him. His remorse climaxes when Butterfly kills herself, after realizes he truly doesn’t love her an dis planning to take their child with him. The latent content of the song deals more with the accidental killing if a physical butterfly, but the metaphor is quite clear. That’s some deep s**t right there.
So that’s Pinkerton, my pick for #1. Again, personal taste aside, these two albums are relatively interchangeable. As much fun as The Blue Album is, it’s the personal connections to Pinkerton that cause me to lean in that direction. But I think this list really showcases the rise, fall from grace, and redemption of Weezer. But like all fans, I’m still waiting them to release Songs From The Black Hole. That would definitely go towards the top. Although much of it was released either on Pinkerton, as B-sides, or on Rivers’ solo albums (which would also place near the top of this list), I’d still love to see it.
Standout Tracks: The thing I pulled for The Blue Album only works once. I’ll have to just pick my personal favorites.
“Tired of Sex”, “Across The Sea”, “The Good Life”, “El Scorcho”, “Pink Triangle”
I wonder what band I’ll rave about next. Hint: you definitely have their newest album.
Final word count: 6721. Breaking records and taking names.