Monday, November 1, 2010

Top 25 Albums #23. Pinkerton - Weezer

After the surprising critical and commercial success that was Weezer's debut, singer-songwriter Rivers Cuomo became disillusioned with the rock lifestyle and, after an operation intended to lengthen one of his legs, decided to take a break and study at Harvard. There, under the influence of painkillers and surrounded by cute young lasses, Rivers penned a good deal of his band's sophomore album. Based loosely on Madama Butterfly and named after the character of B.F. Pinkerton, the album (including its cover artwork) embraces a similar fascination with Japan, treating it as a place of fragile, delicate beauty. Pinkerton was originally derided for its abrasive sound, which was seen as an unwanted departure from the debut's clean power-pop. Rivers himself compared it unfavorably to a drunkard spilling his guts in public; the catharsis feels good at first, but embarrassment soon follows. Everyone would later retract what they said, with Rolling Stone awarding the album five stars in a retrospective review, two more than it had initially been granted. Yes, Pinkerton is a little harsher-sounding than The Blue Album, but it's just as full of glorious fist-pumping pop hooks and choruses, from "Why Bother?" to "The Good Life" to "El Scorcho". On top of its sing-alongability lies a metric ton of delicious heartache, detailing the hollow truth of groupie frolicking in opener "Tired of Sex" and the disappointment of loving a lesbian in "Pink Triangle". The real standout here, Weezer's very best song, is "Across The Sea," which relays the tale of Cuomo's obsession with and yearning for an anonymous Japanese girl, whose only connection to him was a fan letter innocent enough to ask what his favorite food is. It's emotional stuff, and the very pinnacle of Emo, the otherwise awful rock genre which was seemingly named after the contents of this specific album.

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