Weezer - Pinkerton
Album Comparisons: Pinkerton
Pinkerton, the follow up to Weezer's hugely successful 1994 self-titled debut (aka "the blue album") was something of a commercial and critical failure upon its release. Rivers Cuomo's darkly themed opus of confused and frustrated sexuality, and the self-produced album's more abrasive, gritty and less polished sound didn't initially sit well with fans, critics, radio, or even the other band members. The album was voted the third worst album of the year in a Rolling Stone readers' poll and largely panned in the publication's now infamous 1996 original review. In the intervening years, the disc has attained a cult status, becoming much more influential and even being credited with giving voice to the then nascent emo scene. In September 2016, just days shy of twenty years after its initial release, Pinkerton was certified platinum. Initially quite poorly received, Pinkerton is now seen as a classic. In 2013, the folks at the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab issued a 180g audiophile vinyl version of the album. How does it compare with the original 1996 CD? Note: The LP transfer below is from a brand new copy of the album. The overall volume of the LP transfer has been normalized, with dynamics between songs retained.

Tired of Sex

1996 original CD release

Tired of Sex

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Tired of Sex

Getchoo

1996 original CD release

Getchoo

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Getchoo

No Other One

1996 original CD release

No Other One

2013 MFSL vinyl release

No Other One

Why Bother?

1996 original CD release

Why Bother?

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Why Bother?

Across the Sea

1996 original CD release

Across the Sea

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Across the Sea

The Good Life

1996 original CD release

The Good Life

2013 MFSL vinyl release

The Good Life

El Scorcho

1996 original CD release

El Scorcho

2013 MFSL vinyl release

El Scorcho

Pink Triangle

1996 original CD release

Pink Triangle

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Pink Triangle

Falling for You

1996 original CD release

Falling for You

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Falling for You

Butterfly

1996 original CD release

Butterfly

2013 MFSL vinyl release

Butterfly
And the winner is: 2013 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab vinyl release. Weezer has been responsible for some of the most horribly compressed albums in my music collection. Every single one of them going back to the beginning has been a disaster from a dynamics standpoint. Pinkerton is no exception, but it does seem to have a somewhat more open sounding mix with a less heavy handed application of compression compared to the "blue" album which preceded it. I've never owned this one on cassette and therefore can't speak to that version's quality relative to the CD, but a juxtaposition of the CD waveforms with those from the audiophile vinyl version reveals an obvious winner as far as dynamics go, and a listening comparison between the two further cements it - the vinyl version is the clear winner. Frankly, there is no justifiable reason for a vinyl release - any vinyl release, even an audiophile one - to have superior dynamic range and mastering over the equivalent CD. A compact disc has 90 dB of possible range to work with, while an extremely well mastered, mint or near mint condition 180-200 gram LP played with a virgin or near virgin stylus on high end audio equipment can boast a maximum of about 70 dB of dynamic range on its first couple of plays. The idea of vinyl as an "audiophile" format by comparison with a compact disc is patently absurd, yet here we have it. I've not heard any of the "regular" vinyl issues of this album, but they are likely all superior to the CD master as well. So if you can find a copy, the Mobile Fidelity release is the way to go here.