Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Counting down my 100 favorite albums of all time...

#21) Weezer - Pinkerton (released in 1996, I bought a promo copy from Arboria when it came out. I was the only regular customer they knew would give a crap about the album)

When I first got this album, I thought it was a solid if lesser and unnecessarily scraggly follow-up to their debut and wrote an article implying as such for the local paper (with the editor-given absurd headline "Pinkerton is dirty, but it works"). Filed it away.

Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I was walking with my friend T.J. when he announced that he'd been spending a lot of time listening to Pinkerton, and I nodded in agreement. Turned out this album was FILLED with lyrics that described our own frustrations about girls and college life, coupled with a sloppy sound that meshed well with our indie-rock worship. Some time later we were cracking up at the computer lab, reading the lyrics out loud from a web page which did not hesitate to drop g's from the end of verbs. We often wondered if other people knew how great this album was, and whether the band would ever return. Over the next few years, we watched the Rebel Weezer Archive turn into Weezer.com, our secret classic turn into (ok, turn out to be) an emo touchstone and read about the band's upcoming resurrection. Their new songs were joyful enough to make me re-appreciate their debut and make me wonder if Pinkerton was a little too coarse and miserable (being in an awesome relationship at the time also helped distance me from what made Pinkerton originally attractive).

Today, with the band firmly entrenched as one of the most influential bands of the '90s, that relationship long gone and their recent material turning out to be incoherent excerpts from an admittedly hooky phonebook, I can say that Pinkerton isn't just a sentimental favorite but a genuine classic. Harvard's not just to credit for Cuomo's increased musical ambition and the lonely, obsessive situation he found himself in, but also for providing an obvious lyrical influence in Jonathan Richman (frankly I think Rivers style is exactly what Richman's would have been if the old world was heavy metal and feminism was post-feminism). While I no longer can wholly identify with the angst presented here (if I have a serious crush on somebody, I'm gonna fucking tell them), but I have yet to hear this mentality expressed in such an open, humorous and expressive context elsewhere. No mainstream rock sounds as loose and confessional and no indie album has as much coherency and melody. "Tired Of Sex," "Pink Triangle" and "No Other One" make romantic horror stories hummable. "El Scorcho" is hilarious and touching, "The Good Life" ironic and earnest and "Across The Sea" is both pitiful and frightening. I'd argue its the finest album of the '90s.

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