Album Review: Weezer – Pinkerton [Deluxe Edition]




And now, for a fit of nostalgia:

Super Nintendo. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. Vocalist/Guitarist Rivers Cuomo. Bassist Matt Sharp. Drummer Pat Wilson. Guitarist Brian Bell. Weezer. Pinkerton.

That game and that album are forever entwined in my pop-addled mind. We’d had the video game for a while (Pinkerton didn’t show up until nearly a year after that purchase), but I can still recall “Tired of Sex” starting up as the game credits flashed upon our guest room’s television. If I was playing late at night, I would have my flimsy headphones plugged into the mammoth Sony CD boombox beside the game console, punishing my ears with blessed distortion and avoiding the wrath of sleeping parents and brothers. However, on the weekends or after school, Pinkerton was given free reign to play as loudly as I wanted.

I loved the record from day one. It was different from their self-titled debut, and there wasn’t a clear-cut single in the tracklist, but that didn’t matter to me. Perhaps I heard it at the right time where I didn’t need seasons or years to pass before I could look back and think, “you know, Pinkerton is a really good album,” or maybe I’m just a music elitist (hey, it could be the former). Pinkerton was the album for me in 1996, and it still is almost 14 years later.

“Tired of Sex” is still an absolute ripper of an opener, with Wilson’s blow-your-eardrums-out percussion. “The Good Life” and “Why Bother?” still provide energy for those searching for some. “No Other One” should get your significant other back if he or she is worthwhile. The two ballads “Across the Sea” and “Butterfly” are hard to top, with the former finding a happy ending (Cuomo actually ended up marrying a Japanese girl from across the sea). It’s just a great sequence of songs that make the record as beloved as it is today.

For our news stories or album reviews at Consequence of Sound, we try to avoid using the words “I” or “me.” It transforms the article into a personal piece, detaching itself from the curious reader. The rules bend when it comes to our Dusting ‘Em Off articles or other Exclusive Feature pieces. It’s okay to get nostalgic in these instances, but we have to be forgiven when it comes to reviewing deluxe or special editions from years past. Some of us who write about music from our laptops have souls (or so I’ve heard), and I can’t help but weep nostalgic when it comes to the centerpiece of my teenage years, Weezer’s Pinkerton.

I can find faults in future Weezer records like the majority of the planet (see: Make Believe and/or The Red Album), and it gets to the point where I start to doubt my opinions on the band’s second album. Perhaps it was just nostalgia taking over. Maybe the songs from the 21st century are just as good as the songs from the tail end of the 20th. Nope. Pinkerton [Deluxe Edition] throws that argument to the wolves. The songs still sound great, but it’s these rarely-heard bonus tracks that paint a picture of how great this band once was.

For starters, we get the kitchen sink treatment. There are 25 bonus tracks, and though most of those consist of acoustic/live versions of Pinkerton tracks (which sound terrific, by the way), the real jewels of this purchase are the studio tracks left off the record. After being treated to the power-pop reverie of “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” (“Go for it, Angus”), we get “Devotion”, a mid-tempo B-side from the overseas “El Scorcho” single. It’s a beautifully arranged piece of music with earnest lyrics about that guy or girl who loves you, while you’re off pining for someone else. Cuomo’s high tenor thanks the girl who waited with refrains of, “You never gave up devotion/Waiting for me/You’ll always be my girlfriend.” It’s the stuff prom dances were made of.

“Waiting on You”, previously available on another overseas single (“The Good Life”), is another slowed-down lovelorn track; a slow waltz with crashing symbols “waiting and waiting/waiting and waiting/waiting on you.” Classic Weezer “ooohs” and “ohhhs” dress the breaks between chorus and verse. The Rachel Haden-led track, “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams”, speaks for itself. Haden’s regretful lyrics dance across the Moog-laced proceedings. Both of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place in Sharp’s then-side project, The Rentals. Haden was actually a member of that outfit before Pinkerton, and briefly again a few years ago.

Things take a dark turn. The guitars are sludge, and the rhythm section sticks to the ground as Cuomo treks through whatever bog he finds himself in, singing “I Swear It’s True”. The track has a definite grungy feel to it, only slightly impeded upon by keyboard effects later on. A change of pace from the other bonus tracks, but no less satisfying. The pace is picked back up for “You Won’t Get With Me Tonight”. The characters of Jonas and Maria are here from the discarded Songs from the Black Hole album (but that’s…another story), with Cuomo singing both parts in this demo. Aggressive guitar and drums dominate this vintage Weezer tune.

Folks, we’re not done. “Long Time Sunshine” is here in early form. It’s not 100% polished, but it doesn’t need to be. Piano gives way to acoustic guitars, which ultimately give way to a gorgeous harmony featuring excerpts from “Why Bother” and “…Love of My Dreams” amongst others. It was supposed to close out Pinkerton, and as great as Butterfly is, would have worked out just fine. “Getting Up and Leaving” almost (almost) jacks the guitar line from The Beatles’ “She Said She Said”, but changes at the last second. It’s another good mid-tempo song about longing to go “back/Back to where I came from”.

The final studio track, and final track on the entire deluxe edition, is “Tragic Girl”. Apparently, this track was discovered recently by Cuomo, who had completely forgotten about its existence. This only causes Weezer fans to salivate for what else is out there, waiting to be found. The music at times resembles the breakdown for “No Other One”, while some of the vocal deliveries remind the listener of “Pink Triangle” so perhaps a decision had to be made for which song made the final cut. Still a worthy inclusion in the Weezer canon, at an epic length for a Weezer song, clocking in at over five minutes.

The live tracks and acoustic tracks were skimmed over in this article, but are also worth diving into. You get five different versions of “The Good Life” and “Pink Triangle” from various live venues and recording studios. You get rough demos of “Tired of Sex” and “Getchoo”. You get everything you wanted from this deluxe edition of Pinkerton.

While we’re on the topic, did anyone ever beat Kaptain K. Rool?

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