Weezer - Pinkerton

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When Weezer released their debut album in 1994, just one month after Kurt Cobain’s suicide, it’s safe to say that no one was betting on the band to be the saviors of alternative rock. In contrast to Nirvana’s anthems for disaffected youth, Weezer wrote singalong songs about geeking out in your garage and sweaters coming undone. Not to mention, they loved hard rock and heavy metal bands like KISS and Metallica, right down to their heroic guitar solos. Against all odds, however, Weezer (aka 'Blue Album') was a smash, selling almost a million copies in the US by the end of the year. With it came to creating its follow-up, Pinkerton, expectations were high.

Like many of his grunge contemporaries, frontman Rivers Cuomo had grown weary of the rock-star life – living in tour buses and motels for months, feeling isolated from his adoring fans. To cope with his emotional and musical frustrations at the time, Cuomo listened obsessively to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, an opera about the marriage between a Japanese girl, Cio-Cio-San (the Madame Butterfly of the title), and an American naval lieutenant, BF Pinkerton. After a year of channeling his depression and disillusionment into his own songwriting, Cuomo emerged with an album he named after the opera’s male protagonist.

Released on September 24, 1996, Pinkerton was greeted with mixed reviews, but the album enjoyed something of a revival two decades later when it became certified platinum. The album features the singles "El Scorcho", "The Good Life" and "Pink Triangle". Following the critical response to Pinkerton, however, Cuomo sank into a crushing depression for several years. When he re-emerged in the new millennium, he returned to writing the “simplistic and silly” songs he had scorned before, dismissing Pinkerton as “a hugely painful mistake”.

Six years after panning it, Rolling Stone’s readers voted it the 16th greatest album ever, and critics retrospectively hailed the album as a masterpiece. Even Cuomo himself came around, praising the authenticity of his songs, and on Weezer’s Memory Tour in 2010, the band played the full album live to fans who sang every word back at them.

When Cuomo wrote it, he was a still-maturing young man who desperately wanted love, sometimes confusing it for sex; to this day, that describes a substantial share of Weezer’s audience. As long as there are teenagers on this planet, there are going to be listeners who hear Cuomo singing to them, for them, on Pinkerton.

Heavyweight vinyl produced by Geffen Records in 2016. DDM (Direct Metal Mastering) for optimal sound. Cut at Abbey Road Studios.

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