It depresses me that, far too often, when I tell people I like Weezer they reply saying ‘Oh yeah, Teenage Dirtbag was a right tune!’.
Weezer made some absolutely amazing music in the early 90s with both their multi-platinum, self-titled debut and the dark, cult follow up ‘Pinkerton’. A lot of people, especially in the UK, only really know Weezer (or Wheatus if you’re a fucking idiot) for their light-hearted later efforts (Pork and Beans, Beverly Hills etc.) and iconic Spike Jonze videos but if you listen to those early works, it’s brutally-dark and soul-searchingly honest. Lyricist Rivers Cuomo’s real talent was the ability to keep these moments of realism cloaked in a thin veil of light-heartedness, the ultimate musical representation of every young man’s emotional defence mechanism. Even songs that were criticised for their apparent immaturity (Tired of Sex, Pink Triangle) to me do not represent someone who is trying to get cheap laughs but someone who is so intent on complete artistic honesty that they stopped censoring themself and put it all out there, however embarrassing.
The music itself is raw. A lot of people talk of the debut’s apparent ‘shiny’ qualities especially in comparison to Pinkerton but to me, both albums sounded like someone stuck a mic in their practice space which more bands should probably actually do. These albums do not try to pull any tricks. Weezer took the 90’s fuzz boom (thanks Kurt), distilled it, added more pop and let their emotions run wild. Every song is a brilliantly crafted, hook laden master piece that manages to be catchy even at it’s darkest. The riffs are huge but they don’t hide behind macho bombast; Weezer seem almost blissfully unaware of the face-punching power of their compositions and it gives even something as colossal the ‘Say It Ain’t So’ chorus an endearing modesty.
There’s a power in Weezer’s songs that goes beyond their ‘turnt to 11’ fuzz tones. There’s a far deeper emotional presence that charges through every note that both these albums could have been played on Ukuleles and they would have been just as heart-wrenching. Yes I am exaggerating but not by that much.
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