You likely already know this album, but if you’re one of the rock fans who’ve yet to encounter it, the TL;DR version of the story is this: Weezer’s self-titled debut “blue” album was a huge series of hits, then they put out an introspective sophomore album that was — as one wag once put it — about Rivers Cuomo’s desire to nail Japanese school girls. It kind of tanked, and now it’s basically inspired an entire generation of bands. Weezer’s always been an arena-rock band, even when they were playing clubs and theaters. Pinkerton marries that big loud rock with introspection and intimacy, making a song such as “Butterfly” equally as impressive as album opener “Tired of Sex.”
And if you want to talk pure songwriting, look no further than “Pink Triangle.” A song about falling in love with a gay woman somehow manages to not be cringe-inducing 20 years later. LGBTQ relations have come such a long way, one would think a line like, “I’m dumb, she’s a lesbian” would carry a homophobic tint, but instead it just more accurately conveys Cuomo’s self-loathing.
Given the fact I’ve basically been listening to mp3s ripped a decade ago for the majority of my memory, I can be forgiven for thinking Pinkerton was sonically pretty basic. The songs have always been great, obviously — the 20 years of it only increasing its stature and importance rather prove that point — but it’s always been a pretty standard pop-rock record to me, with the lyrics being the most important part.
Well, damned if I wasn’t terribly wrong. It’s pretty de rigeur to go on and on about the sonic benefits of vinyl over digital/compact disc/cassette/8-track/etc., but it’s only when you listen to music that’s been terribly compressed and limited, and then hear a great pressing, that it really sinks in. Hearing the full dynamic range of an album lets you hear it in a whole new way, and in the case of Weezer and Pinkerton, this Vinyl Me, Please reissue sounds astonishing.
The reissue of Pinkerton sounds so good I was convinced I had something amiss with either my pressing or the settings on my stereo. There was just so much going on. Is it possible to have a record that sounds so good, you think something’s wrong with it?
The opening build of “Tired of Sex” contained elements I’d never noticed. On my iPod, it’s been sort of a wash of noise, slightly shot through with a wheezing synth, but on this pressing, you can hear each element distinctly. By the time the song exploded with Cuomo’s “whoa-oh-oh,” I was a bit overwhelmed.
The dynamic range does make it seem a little overstuffed at times — the basic Sony turntable we have in our living room really struggled to put through all of the sound being conveyed without it appearing a little blown out on the likes of “Getchoo” and “Falling For You” — but the Numark in my office had it sounding great.
Editor’s Note: A couple commenters stated Mobile Fidelity materials were used for the pressing. If you’ve never listened to a Mobile Fidelity release (especially Weezer), that’s a very good thing.
The pop-up inside the LP is amazing, and really presents nicely, especially with the Vinyl Me, Please art print by Fuco Ueda. The presentation of the entire package is absolutely well-considered, and the smokey clear blue vinyl of the LP provides a nice contrast to the rather monochromatic LP jacket.
There’s a lyric sheet with band lineup and a few photos in the gatefold sleeve, and while 90 percent of those getting this record probably have the songs memorized, it’s nice to have them larger than the compact disc version, as the handwritten words were always a little difficult to make out. The cocktail pairing recipe is pretty great, too, although a couple of the ingredients are a little esoteric.
“Pinkerton” was available as Vinyl Me, Please’s May subscription record. You can sign up for the sub, here.