When a band manages to stick around for a couple of decades, regularly releasing albums along the way, it’s very rare for there to be a complete consensus about where their career peaked. Since 1994, Weezer have released nine long players. All vary between well regarded like their debut, Blue, to promising return to form, like Red, to completely (and I would say unfairly) written off tatt, like Make Believe. All vary in perceived quality and public opinion. All, that is, except for one Weezer album. In a recent poll of 100 people imagined in my head, all 100 said Weezer’s greatest album is their sophomore effort, Pinkerton.
Blue already introduced the world to Weezer’s fuzzed out guitars, juxtaposed with Rivers Cuomo’s wavering vocals and self effacing lyrics. But a song like Getchoo ramps up the almost metal guitars hinted at on the previous album, to give Pinkerton a louder, more sincere, less ironic passion than anything on Blue.
Across the Sea, and later Pink Triangle, are the perfect examples of why I question this seemingly blind dedication to Pinkerton as the superior Weezer output. You put these songs on any other Weezer album, and they would fit in just fine. Like a lot of this album I like it, but I like it for the same reasons I like the stuff they did before and after this. I just really struggle to hear the massive difference in Pinkerton that so many people profess is there.
I’d say that for any casual listener, this album is most famous for El Scorcho. And I don’t know if it’s pure nostalgia or not, but this song is the clear standout for me. It’s been on regular rotation in my life for almost 20 years now, and it remains great. Its herky jerky rhythm, its absolute limit pushing of Cuomo’s vocals, its heart worn its sleeve lyrics, everything about El Scorcho holds up. And similarities with the earlier Why Bother? also make that one of my favourite songs here.
While general internet opinion seems to be that Pinkerton is Weezer’s one and only masterpiece, a true 10/10, I can’t agree with that. Just like I can’t get on board with people who would call albums like Raditude or Maladroit failures. I think that love them or hate them, Weezer is one of the most consistent bands to emerge from the 90s. I’d never give their best album anything higher than an 8/10, and their worst is probably a 6/10. Pinkerton’s right in that range too. Slightly better than some Weezer albums, slightly worse than others, but no clear distinction either way.