Release Date: September 24, 1996
Tired of Sex
Across the Sea
Anyone who knows a little bit about Weezer knows that Pinkerton was shit-canned by nearly every critic out there when it was first released. Over the years the critical base has caught up with the fan base and warmed up to the album, to the point where it’s now often mentioned as one of the essential records of the 90’s. The most humorous of shifts in opinion comes from Cuomo, who excluded nearly all the tracks from Weezer's live sets for quite a while. There’s a quote from him in the book, River’s Edge: the Weezer Story, regarding Pinkerton: “It's like getting really drunk at a party and spilling your guts in front of everyone and feeling incredibly great and cathartic about it, and then waking up the next morning and realizing what a complete fool you made of yourself.” However in an interview with Pitchfork a few years later, after opinon of the record had dramatically shifted, Cuomo says, “Pinkerton's great. It's super-deep, brave, and authentic. Listening to it, I can tell that I was really going for it when I wrote and recorded a lot of those songs.” His contrasting comments, combined with the complete crap he's put out since Pinkerton has me wondering if Rivers Cuomo actually knows what a good record is. But being in a band as popular as Weezer, Cuomo has participated in so many interviews he might simply echo what he feels the interviewer wants to hear. And Pitchfork was one of the first critics to champion Pinkerton a huge success.
Although Pinkerton seems to have confused many, Cuomo included, most can now agree it's a pretty damned good record. I'm not sure I would echo sentiments of it being an essential 90's record, and it might not match the quality of the Blue Album, but not many records can. Cuomo touches on some interesting and very unique subjects this time around, most likely gaining confidence in his writing capabilities while attending Harvard. “Tired of Sex” is sort of a tongue-in-cheek complaint regarding the monotony of his sexual conquests with groupies, while hoping he will someday find "real" love. “Across the Sea” touches on the good feeling of getting a fan letter, while also having conflicting fantasies about who (and how old) the potential girl might be who sent it. And quite possibly the strongest track, “Pink Triangle,” focuses on the heartbreak in finding out your girlfriend is a lesbian.
The immediate harsh criticism of Pinkerton unquestionably had an impact on Weezer’s confidence. They’ve never been the same since. Instead of continuing to push the artistic envelope, they're following in the same dead-end path paved by their three-chord power-pop heroes from "El Scorcho," who Cuomo's "cool" crush had never heard of, Green Day. Early-career highlights like “The Good Life” and “Buddy Holly” have been replaced by very poor quality singles such as “Hashpipe,” and quite possibly one of the worst songs of the past decade, “Beverly Hills." Cuomo no longer takes any chances, and Weezer has become a rock’n’roll punchline for how easily musicians can fall off a cliff. But that seems a bit unfair in all honesty. Not many can boast crafting two quality records, of which have been very influential on contemporary rock'n'roll. And most everyone can agree, at least in hindsight, that Weezer was a force to be reckoned with for most of the 1990's.