This is an installment of a series of blogs where I revisit some classic albums that I love, used to love or has made an impact on pop culture whether I am familiar with it or not. You can also make suggestions on a classic album, and I may give a whirl and review it.
When Weezer came out of left-field in 1994, they hit a music world filled with angst, greasy hair and flannel with what a lot of people called “nerd-rock.” The “Blue Album” was a breath of fresh air from grunge, which itself had been a breath of fresh air from the hair metal of the ’80s.
And it was fantastic. It wasn’t polar-opposite of grunge, it was just different. It was poppy, yet it rocked. The lyrics where insightful, but not painfully too self-deprecating like Kurt Cobain. It felt like a band for those of us whole liked hard rock and punk rock, Star Wars and reading, but not a long-winded prog rock band like Rush.
It was a hit, especially with the success of “(Undone) Sweater Song” and the Spike Jonze-directed video for the catchy “Buddy Holly.”
The band was riding high. Then in 1996, they released the highly anticipated follow-up, “Pinkerton.”
And people hated it.
Yes, it’s hard to think that Weezer’s now most regarded album (in a lot of circles) was basically a flop when it came out.
To start, it is an incredibly raw venture compared to the slickly produced predecessor (produced by Cars front man, Ric Ocasek). Also, it was much more abrasive lyric-wise. No more songs about rocking out in your garage, now they were singing about break-ups, bad relationships and other darker themes. It was way more introspective than what people had heard before from them.
Also, the music was heavier, at times sounding punk and metal. A lot of distortion. It was quite the change. But it was cool they broke the mold.
To cap it off, there was nothing resembling a hit song at all. It got little radio play and was buried in video rotation in that weird era when MTV actually played enough videos to bury one.
Fans hated it; it was a flop.
Then Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo put the band on hiatus. Not too long after that, their popular bassist, Matt Sharp, left to pursue his side band at the time, The Rentals (fantastic band by the way). So fans now had a band indefinitely on hiatus and the loss of a popular member.
Fast forward. A lot of the popular band (ranging from pop-punk to indie bands, singer songwriters and so forth) claim “Pinkerton” as a major influence sonically and lyrically. When you listen to bands like Modest Mouse, The Strokes and so forth, “Pinkerton’s” influence is there.
This album has created a acceptance among fans over the years, who allowed the album to grow on them, a lot of them claiming it superior to “Blue Album,” myself included. “The Good Life” is better than anything on “Blue.” “Across the Sea” and “El Scorcho” claim that as well.
It’s a much more deep and interesting album than “Blue.” It’s such an awesome record. If anything, I enjoy this album even more as I get older.
Yes, Weezer has put out some good albums since, and some pretty bad ones as well (I’m looking at you, “Raditude”!), but for me, and I’m sure a lot of others, “Pinkerton” will be the definitive album of theirs.