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The dreamy guitars at the beginning of “Falling for You” soon become howls as Cuomo has a huge epiphany about his relationship. Once again, the singer disarms with a heart-wrenching performance that gives the listener vivid details. “Holy sweet, God damn”, Cuomo muses, as he tries to wrap his head around just why this girl fell for him in the first place. “What could you possibly see, in little ol’ three chord me?” he asks her, still scratching his head. Between striking lyrical imagery and guitars that chime like wedding bells, “Holy sweet, God damn” is right.
Remember when I said before that Weezer knows how to open an album? “Tired of Sex” is my case in point. Cuomo’s lamentations about an abundance of pointless sex are a stark contrast from his naïve persona on Weezer’s first record, bringing the listener into the distorted, troubled world of Pinkerton. After sticking to a simple drum scheme on the first record, Patrick Wilson unleashes his fury on this song’s outro. I’ve always viewed Wilson as a solid drummer, but here he puts his chops on display with clattering fills and unforgiving cymbal smashes that complement Cuomo’s pent-up resentment.
“Goddamn you half-Japanese girls / You do it to me every time. Off-the-wall lyrics like these are the norm on Weezer’s anecdotal “El Scorcho”. Throaty screams from Sharp make Cuomo sound sane by comparison, and leave this track dangling by its last hinge. Cuomo’s adoration of pop culture is alive and kicking with shout-outs to a Green Day concert (how had she “never heard of them”?!) and professional wrestlers from the ‘90s. The guys go off the rails completely when the drums barrel in mid-way and Weezer hurl everything it has at the wall. You realize at this point that “El Scorcho” isn’t just a love song, it’s a love song you can mosh to.
Just when you’re getting accustomed to the maelstrom of distortion and angst, the final song on Pinkerton concludes the album on an introspective and uncertain note. Backed solely by an acoustic guitar and a distant bass drum thump, Cuomo delivers his final words on the 1996 classic. “I’m sorry”, he laments repeatedly mid-breakdown, but you know he’s already too late. The girl (who’s beautifully symbolized by a butterfly in a mason jar) that he wronged can’t hear his apology because she’s long gone. They say if you listen closely enough you can actually hear the sound of Cuomo’s heart ripping in two.
Weezer’s discography is packed to the brim with songs about unrequited love, but none sting quite as much as “Across the Sea”. Cuomo sings with emotional bareness, pushing through the voice cracks and moments of doubt. “Across the Sea” is a sonic love note in a bottle to a Japanese girl who sent the singer fan mail. Cuomo’s honest storytelling in “Across the Sea” includes fantasies about this girl and the sniffing and licking of her letters. We might not be able to relate to this wacky behavior, but we’re still on Cuomo’s side. The song’s climax has wailing guitars and pummeling drums that make all of the singer’s sentiments hit home. The demure, camera-shy frontman all but went into hiding after the band’s Pinkerton tour as he had essentially recorded his private diary for the world to hear. In an interview from 2001, Cuomo compared Pinkerton to “getting really drunk at a party and spilling your guts to everyone”. “Across the Sea” is Weezer at its best: flawless, idiosyncratic songwriting and unforgettable emotional catharsis.
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// Moving Pixels
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