WEEZER Pinkerton (DGC) 

Weezer’s second album has undergone something of a critical and commercial rollercoaster ride since its 1996 release. Dating from a time when band frontman Rivers Cuomo had semi-retired in disillusionment with the rock star life, choosing instead to study at Harvard, it mostly drenches Weezer’s outsider college rock in distortion. It’s no great surprise to see former Mercury Rev member Dave Fridmann credited as one of the album’s engineers, given that he’d later deploy a similar style in his production work for The Flaming Lips and Sleater-Kinney. Beneath the squall, though, Cuomo’s cries for help aren’t totally obscured, as if he’s deliberately smothering the lyrics’ naked emotions with a protective blanket of fuzz. The result is car-crash compelling: it’s rare to hear songs that are so open about the downsides of relationships and the many associated subjects – groupies, fan mail, inadvertently falling for a lesbian – touched upon here, or which manage to turn the personal so convincingly into something universal.  

The currently available standard vinyl edition of “Pinkerton” (there’s a deluxe edition box set too, for those who feel short-changed by the album’s economical 35 minute duration) is as good as it needs to be. Given the content this album’s never going to be an audiophile delight, but it’s carefully pressed on somewhat flimsy vinyl, and it does the job.