Adam El Araby gives the deluxe edition of Weezer’s Pinkerton a spin
It was never going to be easy for Weezer to follow their platinum-selling, self-titled debut but, upon its release in 1996, its successor Pinkerton was a resounding critical and commercial disaster. Throwing out the catchy riffs and power pop of The Blue Album in favour of a darker, more introverted lyrical style, Pinkerton alienated Weezer’s fans and cast the band into the wilderness for the following five years. However, Pinkerton’s reputation began to grow over time as new listeners discovered its raw sound and by the end of the last century it had come to be seen as one of the greatest albums of the decade.
Primarily written by frontman Rivers Cuomo while he studied at Harvard, Pinkerton’s tracks paint a vivid portrait of the troubled mind of someone struggling to adjust to a normal life following the debaucheries of fame. Titles like Tired of Sex and Why Bother? offer an insight into his conflicted psyche, his frustration with casual sexual encounters and his desire for more meaningful romantic relationships. On The Good Life, we see him at his most self-loathing, resenting his physical limitations and yearning for a return to better times. El Scorcho elegantly encapsulates the motivation behind the entire album in the lines “How stupid is it // I can’t talk about it // I gotta sing about it // And make a record of my heart”. The plaintive honesty in its angst and anguish lends it a cathartic appeal that resonates as strongly today as it did 15 years ago. Weezer’s subsequent offerings may have disappointed but Pinkerton still feels fresh.
Alongside the original album, this re-issue includes 25 bonus tracks. Weezer completionists will be satisfied by the inclusion of the seven B-Sides from the original single releases. There are also 16 alternate versions of tracks from the album including excellent acoustic versions of The Good Life and El Scorcho, and a selection of slightly muffled live performances from the 1996 Reading Festival. Two new songs have been recovered for this edition, I Swear It’s True, which has previously only been heard in leaked demo tapes and Tragic Girl, a track that has lain forgotten since the original Pinkerton recording sessions. The Pinkerton Deluxe Edition is a fitting tribute to an album that was criminally underrated for too long. If you have yet to experience Weezer at the height of their musical powers, do yourself a favour and pick this up