| POSTED BY: DERRICK WIEST
In a music scene dominated by heavily produced pop sensations like the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys, at the height of the third-wave ska revival, releasing a brooding, lo-fi album would seem like a questionable decision, at best. And your suspicions would be confirmed, after all, by the critical and commercial failure of Pinkerton in '96. Weezer took a risk by deviating from the geek-friendly power-pop formula that sent the Blue Album triple-platinum, but Rivers Cuomo can hardly be blamed for making the record that felt right to him, and his efforts on Pinkerton have since been rewarded with a devoted following and increasingly favorable reviews.
Rivers Cuomo speaks the truth when he claims to be "no Mr. Cool." The album, written at Harvard University, where Cuomo decided to hole himself up after becoming disillusioned with the rock-and-roll scene, depicts the singer as a desperate, socially awkward recluse. "I'm a lot like you, so please / Hello, I'm here, I'm waiting" runs the chorus of "El Scorcho", expressing the singer's inability to approach a girl who caught his eye, while "Across The Sea" finds him sniffing a fan letter while he imagines its author touching herself — hardly the image of a rock star, but most listeners aren't rock stars either. The lyrics might feel unrefined, but the gritty imagery and raw confession provide a sense of intimacy, and probably won some attention for the album during the rise of emo at the turn of the century.
Given Pinkerton's steadily increasing fan base and standing among critics, combined with the industry's nostalgia for the 1990's and penchant for printing reissues this year, the album seems ripe to be sold again. Pinkerton may also gain an advantage from the recent trend toward low fidelity recordings. Unlike lo-fi acts, however, Weezer's decision to (barely) produce the album themselves feels more motivated by a need for creative control and to achieve a natural sounding record, rather than trying to jump on a bandwagon — after all, in 1996, 'lo-fi' had not yet become a genre. The music feels every bit as raw as the lyrics, especially on "Getchoo", where every instrument competes for dominance, to the extent of drowning out Cuomo's voice.
The reissue includes a total of 25 tracks beyond the original release. Unfortunately, most of these are live recordings and radio sessions, none of which sound much different than the studio album. The B-Sides from Pinkerton are nice, however, along with four unreleased tracks from that period. Bonus material aside, the album itself is solid, or at least interesting enough to be worth owning. On the other hand, if you're looking for four new versions of "Pink Triangle", you're in luck.
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