This week Caz Tran digs into Weezer's classic second album, Pinkerton.
Oversharing is pretty commonplace, or almost expected, in our social media focused world. But 20 years ago, it made a lot of us kind of uncomfortable.
Back in 1996, many derided Weezer’s second album Pinkerton for its intense level of oversharing. Songs fantasising and fetishising teenage fans ('Across The Sea') and falling in love with a lesbian ('Pink Triangle') were point blank visitations into the sexual psyche of songwriter Rivers Cuomo.
The poor reception of this second album for its ‘juvenile’ lyrics sent him into an extreme depression. In 2001 he told Entertainment Weekly it was "a hideous record. A hugely painful mistake that happened in front of hundreds of thousands of people".
Loosely based on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Pinkerton’s dark, emotional lyrics and raw production was hard to a struggle for fans. Especially after the polished and catchy songs like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Undone - The Sweater Song’ from their debut.
How he managed to own up to his major emotional and sexual shortcomings to write, then perform songs about indulging too many groupies (‘Tired Of Sex’), jealousy (‘Getchoo’) and anger (‘The Good Life’) is either courage on a grand scale or a desperate cry for help. Or perhaps a bit of both.
It would take years for many young music fans to embrace this album. Its themes of rejection and pain helped them find solace. They dealt with their own frustrations through Pinkerton’s super personal and gut wrenching detail.
It’s also been a major influence on a wave of confessional and emotional hard rock bands. Many of which view Pinkerton as one of the best and most important emo rock albums of the decade.
As part of their Memories tour in 2009, Weezer re-visited their two great '90s records and the redemption was sweet.
"When we first toured those albums, especially Pinkerton, a lot of the fans at that time didn’t even really know that album, didn’t care about it," Cuomo told triple j’s Robbie Buck and Lindsay McDougall.
"It was pretty discouraging. But now, years later, we play Pinkerton front to back and every person was singing every single word. For me, as a songwriter, that is the greatest feeling in the world".
Such is the deep interest that surrounds this album that Cuomo released a series of three albums which compile demo recordings between 1993 to 1996. The period when he’d enrolled at Harvard and was writing the first two albums. The Pinkerton Diaries is a collection of letters, essays and musical ideas written at the time too.
These days Cuomo describes Pinkerton as "...super-deep, brave and authentic". For an album that was once trashed and ridiculed, its resurrection to cult status is one of the truly amazing and unique stories in modern music.
For a young boy like Cuomo, raised on an ashram in Connecticut, idolising KISS and dreaming one day of being a rock star, that’s a fair achievement.