Friday, August 20, 2010

FDF Volume 2: issue 196 - Weezer - Pinkerton

By: March

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Album - Pinkerton
Artist - Weezer
Key Players - Matt Sharp - bass, synthesizer, vocals. Brian Bell - guitars,vocals. Patrick Wilson - drums. Rivers Cuomo - lead vocals, guitar
Produced By - Weezer

Release Date - September 24, 1996

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Over the years I've grown apart from Weezer for some reason or another. I loved the debut, was confused with Pinkerton and haven't been overly wow'd since. Still, I understand what they are trying to do, and have done. People always talk about what a watershed record Pinkerton is/ with that I decided to give this one a front to back.

Overview - Coming off the multi platinum debut album Weezer released Pinkerton. A legal issue at the inital release with a security company cause the record label to delay some of its promotions for the record. It will still crack the top 20 in the US (Peaking at #19) but the band and fans were used to success at this point. The album was much darker than the "blue" album and many fans were turned off with the direction of the band. It got even worse for the band when Rolling Stone called it one of the worst albums of the year. The album would be the last with bassist Matt Sharp. The band would struggle for a bit, but would regain traction and the album is now considered a cult classic. By 2001 the album had gone gold, and in 2002 Rolling Stone magazine readers voted it the 16th greatest album of all time. The album would chart on many "essential" lists when best of the 90's were complied. The band is planning a major re-issue of the album in October 2010. Oh yeah, this album is also considered "the" album that introduced "emo" to a wider audience.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with "Tired of Sex" a distorted keyboard and bass are the focus at the start, then the drums come in. Cuomo is a little hushed on his vocals allowing Sharp, Bell and Wilson to grow around him. By the chorus Cuomo is yelling and the band hits down hard. Vocals are strained, but the backing vocals are smooth to offest the buzz and urgency of the track. The title of the song is never mentioned and the band is in and out of the song in 3:01. This is a trend for the record, with nothing going much beyond 4 minutes. "Getchoo", is another shorter track. The music is pushed up and Cuomo is in fine form. The guitars form a wall of sound. Sharp and Wilson have some fun around the chorus working on some chopped time signatures, which puts the punch on the track. By the time "No Other One" begins fans of the last album realize there has been some changes. The songs all blend in to one another and do feel darker. Cuomo is more laid back on the song, but the guitars still have a heavy tone to them. The songs don't really seem to have a "verse/chorus/verse" either. Sure the music seems to change in volume, and tempo, but there hasn't been a real "sing along" moment yet, and I, like most fans at the time, have been taken off guard. Sharp rumbles across on the bass as "Why Bother?" starts. This is a catchy, pop/punk song that has a first glimpse of a "guitar solo" albeit very short. The band strums the chords and it marches along very quickly (its the shortest track on the record). A much calmer "Across the Sea" follows. After a quiet intro a lone guitar plays along with piano. The guitar is distorted, but doesn't take from the feel. Wilson breaks out a simple, yet very steady beat. "The Good Life" has a fun lone guitar intro. The fingers snap and the bass starts up. Cuomo is quick and to the point with a machine gun vocal delivery. The band feels at time ready to break out of a shell. The lyrics are "aggressive" from such a fun band. The band is chaotic at times, but come the 2:45 mark they fall in a laid back set, where vocals are hushed, percussion instruments come out, but before you know grows in urgency. The band all comes firing back in for a rousing final verse to the end. The one song that was released first from the album "El Scorcho". It takes a moment to get rolling and a the guitars are playful off each other. The tempo is laid back but it still sounds like "Weezer" which, to this point makes the most sense to have released this as the first single. The three vocals on the chorus add a full sound. Cuomo is in confession mode, trying to woo a girl. The band keeps it playful, but knows the best times to kick in. The track, upon listening back is flawless. It follows the same pattern but about 2 minutes in, the tempo goes up and it gets a little wild. It is timed perfectly and the band goes back to the early formula of the track. Cuomo feeds off the backing vocals of Sharp and Bell once more as the song begins to run towards the end. There are not fancy harmonies, but the band seems to be working in various ranges which adds a nice touch. Two guitars chime together as "Pink Triangle" begins. After a few bars the full band comes in and one guitar goes over the top with higher notes as the second locks into the tempo with the bass and drums. The song an homage to a sticker indicating someone is homosexual offers a funny look of how Cuomo had no idea a person of interest might not be interested in him the same way, until he saw the sticker and "got it". It is a funny, but kept classy, song. It was released as a single, but failed to chart. The band has one of the longer guitar breakdowns of any song on the record and during that time Sharp's bass is really locked in. After the interlude they come out a little slower, but slowly build and fall back to the great tempo that was laid out. Another very strong track on the album. Hardly slowing the band goes right in to "Falling for You". Wilson hammers out the drums and Cuomo and Bell work the guitars off one another. The full band chimes in vocally at times. Bell is given a shot to solo quickly before the second verse is sung, and it keeps everything flowing well. It really fails to crack its own shell and it is sort of one of those what you hear is what you get tracks. Not terrible, but not a stand out either. The album concludes with "Butterfly" an acoustic guitar with just Cuomo on vocals. A quiet and fitting end to the record.

Where are they now? - Weezer are still active both in studio and as a touring act. They have a new cd called "Hurley" that is due on on September 14 in the US. Matt Sharp left the band in 1998 to focus on the band "The Rentals" as well as some solo work. He continues to be active in projects but it has been reported the Rentals are on hiatus.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have only seen the band two times and both were pretty early on in support of the Debut. The first was November 22, 1994 when the band opened for "Live" at the Orpheum Theater. The second time, and by this time the band was bigger than the venue, was March 26, 1995 at the Avalon Ballroom in Boston. The place was packed, and the "Sweater Song" was beyond huge. The show was fun and I recall the band being comfortable with their success.

FDF Overall Take - This is/was a big departure for the band at the time and it is easy to see why many turned away from it. With the progression of music in years following it is easy to go back and find this album had a lot of redeeming qualities. The cult status shouldn't be even a tag any more since the band is now talking about doing a tour in which they'd play the album in full. This one, shouldn't be missed.

The official Weezer site.

News and video of the band talking about doing a tour for Pinkerton can be found here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Video for "El Scorcho" here.
Video for The Good Life and "Tired of Sex" live in Japan.

You can buy Pinkerton here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Jason said...

I guess I'm one of the few who has loved this album since day one. It's still my "go to" Weezer album.


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