Weezer‘s Pinkerton turns 25 this week.
The sophomore effort from Rivers Cuomo and company was released September 24, 1996. Initially a critical and commercial flop upon its debut, Pinkerton has since become one of Weezer’s most beloved and acclaimed albums.
Coming off the heels of their surprise hit 1994 self-titled debut, aka the Blue Album, Weezer seemed poised for rock stardom with album number two. However, instead of following in the footsteps of the bright, jubilant single “Buddy Holly,” Cuomo turned inward and delivered a brutally and uncomfortably honest record with a darker, harsher sound.
The change in direction didn’t sit well with critics, and Pinkerton debuted and peaked at number 19 on the Billboard 200, falling short of Blue Album‘s high on the chart. Weezer toured in support of the album through 1997 before beginning a three-year hiatus.
During that break, both fans and critics began to reevaluate Pinkerton — listeners were compelled by the once-reviled abrasive nature of the music and lyrics, and the record started to become a cult favorite. However, when Weezer returned with 2001’s Green Album, Cuomo practically disowned Pinkerton.
“It’s just a sick album, sick in a diseased sort of way,” Cuomo told Rolling Stone in 2001.
Eventually, just like everyone else, Cuomo warmed up to Pinkerton, telling Pitchfork in 2008 that the album’s “great…super-deep, brave, and authentic.” In 2010, Weezer launched the Memories tour, during which they played Blue and Pinkerton in full.
In an ironic twist, seemingly every new Weezer album since Pinkerton has been met with fans clamoring for a return to that style of songwriting. It’s become such a persistent cycle that even Saturday Night Live made a sketch about it.
In 2016, Pinkerton was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
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