Few records claim as bizarre a history as Weezer's Pinkerton. Upon release in 1996, the band's sophomore effort failed to meet sales expectations, lacked a hit single, and drew primarily negative reviews from the press. Then, via word of mouth and reevaluation, the album began to build a reputation as an initially misunderstood masterwork – a bold, brave, and exposed creation that happened to have hyper-contagious hooks to accompany the confessional lyrics. Today, it's cited on virtually every Best Albums of the '90s list in existence.
Comprised of nonfiction tunes largely based on Rivers Cuomo's dissatisfaction with rock-star life, and written by the singer/guitarist as he attended school at Harvard University, Pinkerton confronts disappointment, loneliness, isolation, awkwardness, and cruel romantic irony with a universal perspective to which anybody can relate. Cuomo selected the character Lieutenant Pinkerton from Puccini's Madame Butterfly as a touchstone, believing the persona symbolic of the tormented protagonists in his songs – and recognizing similar struggles to come to terms with identity.
For all the malaise, Pinkerton also contains beloved wit and humor. Shyness and hands-in-pocket diffidence inform "El Scorcho"; incongruity and surprise surround the simultaneously funny and sad "Pink Triangle"; tedium and desire collide on the cynical "Tired of Sex." Psychosexual confusion, unrequited passion, and good intentions elicit unintended sympathies, a trait that remains one of the record's brilliant turns. Surpassing cult-classic status and conquering fickle tastes, Pinkerton has achieved platinum certification in 2016 just shy of its 20th anniversary, a true and complete redemption.