Why this record?
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Pinkerton opens with “Tired of Sex.” It’s a song about being tired of having sex. This is either a deeply self-aware way to open an album, or it’s one that evinces absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever. Maybe it’s both. Consider that Weezer were a band with a largely teenage fanbase — a fanbase full of awkward half-children dreaming of the day that maybe they’d get to have some sex already. Consider how a song like “Tired of Sex” might’ve sounded to them. I remember sitting there with the album’s lyric sheet, wondering whether Cuomo was joking or what, deciding that this was some grown-up irony that was way over my head. It wasn’t. “Tired of Sex” was about as literal as it gets.
Consider, too, that the ‘90s were the first decade in the entire history of rock music when it wasn’t considered cool to have sex with tons of random women, to brag about it whenever possible. Cuomo wasn’t just acknowledging that he was doing this stuff. He was saying that he was doing this stuff even though he wasn’t enjoying it. It’s the sort of thing you can imagine someone thinking but never saying out loud, except maybe in therapy. But Cuomo wasn’t just saying it out loud. He was singing it, in plain and concrete terms, on a much-anticipated follow-up to a massive hit album. He was just coming right out with it.
Pinkerton is full of moments of uncomfortable realness like that, sentiments maybe only expressed in drunken, instantly-regretted voicemails. On “Pink Triangle,” Cuomo pitches a fit upon learning that a girl is gay and that she’s just not going to be attracted to him. On “Getchoo,” he seems to admit to straight-up not-metaphorical-at-all physical abuse: “Sometimes I push too hard / Sometimes you fall and skin your knee.” On “No One Else,” he fantasizes about the idea of a girl who exists only for him, who “will laugh for no one else.” On “Why Bother?,” he throws up his arms at the sky and gives up on the idea of romantic love completely, figuring that he’s doomed to constant heartbreak and that it’s not even worth it to try finding happiness. But as dark and disturbed as Pinkerton might be, it’s not a dirge. It’s a bright-but-damaged rock album, one full of expert hooks and pent-up energy. Cuomo’s lyrical cleverness, a huge part of the Blue Album’s success, is still very much in evidence on Pinkerton.