Lets face it. Pearl Jam had a great debut, one of the most successful in rock history, and it was well deserved. Ten, every friggin minute of it, is a goddarned classic. Starting from “Once, ‘pon a time !!” to the grand and drawn out conclusion of “Alive” down to the gritty “Porch”, it was huge. Huge. A true epic of modern rock. At least in my mind.
After that, what? Yes, sometimes Vitalogy seems almost as good as Ten. That was an album that really had some great songs. “Immortality”, “Nothingman”, “Better Man”, “Whipping”, to just mention a few, are right up there. Then we have Yield which has “Do the Evolution”, “Given to Fly”, “Wishlist” and the rest of the songs are adequate enough. But Vs? Binaural? Riot Act? Pearl Jam? No Code? Might have had some good songs, but on the whole, just about adequate and no more. From a band that made Ten you might expect something more than just “adequate”. Unfortunately, apart from Ten, Vitalogy and to some extent Yield, all the rest of the time, Pearl Jam has been putting out mostly some mediocre middle of the road albums. That is why, boys and girls, it is better to burn brightly and explode into nothingness rather than to fade away, which is what Pearl Jam has been doing all this decade. Fading Away. In fact if you ask an average Joe (like me) about Pearl Jam, chances are that you wont hear him completely diss the band, but nor would he exclaim excitedly, if you know what I mean.
I am not criticizing Pearl Jam for doing the same thing all the time. I am criticizing them for doing the same thing all the time in not a very noteworthy manner, to put it very mildly. You can play fast and loose all your life long because you know it is never gonna get old coz you got a guy with a mole on his face and an extremely ugly voice yelling about girls and wars. You can play bare to the bones stripped down punk rock if you can make it entertaining enough. You can play balls to the wall cock riffs all life long if they are ballsy enough. You cannot play music like Pearl Jam for more than two decades and expect people to take interest even if the vocalist has got one of the best voices that I have heard in rock music.
And so here we are. Almost 20 years down the line and we have Backspacer and if you ask me, I can put my neck out and say that this is the best album Pearl Jam has made this side of the century. This might be because it is the shortest album they have ever made, at 37 minutes, and that is a big plus. We had stuff like Riot Act and Binaural and the self title album (the lowest points of their career) which positively dragged, and when they ended you were glad that it was over.
You see, Pearl Jam got smart, trimmed and edited, produced some catchy riffs, did not try to be too grandiose, threw in a couple of Eddie heartbreakers and you have a crowd pleaser. And I am pleased. Of course, this album is not for long. In fact, by this time it has already been forgotten by most. It came up on everybody’s radar 3 months ago, the reviewers were glad that it was not bad and not too long and then it was over. Simply because apart from a few catchy tunes and some killer riffs, there is nothing else. However, what there is, is entertaining. Specially recommended for your ears are the tracks “Got Some” and “The Fixer” which have poppy and catchy tunes. Yes, that is correct. For this album, Pearl Jam threw the heavies out of the window and just tried to be upbeat and poppish. Well, they alternate the mood by being upbeat the first three tracks and then happily sad, you know, deliciously sad, on the slow ballad themed songs. And that ladies and genteelmen is all. A record with a short shelf life, but what else will you expect from this era of mediocrity and adequateness? Even wrestling is not exciting anymore, DX don’t make penis references coz its PG and I hardly think that even Stone Cold Steve Austin or the Rock could do anything about it.
–Baba T…….depressed with albums that do not suck and do not rock but just hang their fuckin asses butts in between.
Unless you are already grossed out by what PEARL JAM means, check out other PJ reviews HERE.
Other depressed GRUNGE music reviews HERE.