Pinkerton

Although no one in the band originally hails from Southern California, Weezer have got the sound and attitude of early-'60s Los Angeles down. Melodies bounce with vigor; in the lyrics, help is just a sunshiny day away. There is still plenty of Weezer's signature dorkiness on Pinkerton, the follow-up to their successful 1994 debut, Weezer. Guitars veer off key; tempos speed up for no apparent reason. But what you get is true to the sun-'n'-fun aesthetic of great jangly pop.

As a songwriter, the band's singer and guitarist, Rivers Cuomo, takes a juvenile tack on personal relationships. Throughout Pinkerton, he pines for all the girls he can't have, the girls he can have but shouldn't, the girls who are no good for him and the girls about whom he just isn't sure. "Across the Sea," which begins with a deliberately corny piano intro, is the tale of an 18-year-old girl from Japan who has captured Cuomo's heart by letter. "They don't make stationery like this where I'm from," sings Cuomo wistfully. In "Pink Triangle," Cuomo humorously describes desperately trying to wed a young woman who is a lesbian: "If everyone's a little queer/Why can't she be a little straight?"

Weezer over-rely on catchy tunes to heal all of Cuomo's wounds. In "El Scorcho," the song's infectious chorus proves to be slim reward. "Tired of Sex," a look at a brooding stud's empty sex life, is as aimless as the subject's nightly routine. But "Butterfly" is a real treat, a gentle acoustic number that recalls the vintage, heartbreaking beauty of Big Star. Cuomo's voice cracks as he unintentionally bludgeons the fragile creature in the lyric, suggesting that underneath the geekyteenager pose is an artist well on his way to maturity.