all of you, I was a big fan of the first Pearl Jam
record, "Ten." The modern rock masterpiece
set a new trend in motion, and it still stands as
one of the trademark albums of the grunge movement.
Their follow-up disc, "Vs.," was another
thing of beauty, as was "Vitalogy." Yes,
Pearl Jam quickly established themselves as one
of the most unique and talented bands of the time.
But, in recent years, the band has faltered. Releases
such as "Binaural" and "Riot Act"
failed to generate any interest, and many fans have
begun to doubt the band. I really do feel that "Vitalogy"
was the last great Pearl Jam record. Albums like
"Yield" and "No Code" have their
moments, but really do pale in comparison to the
2006 self-titled release is said to be a return
to form for Pearl Jam. Billed as a more "bare
bones" rock album, I was anxious to hear if
Pearl Jam could still send a chill down my spine.
1: "Life Wasted"
Nice to hear this. This is old school Pearl
Jam. Sounds like it was written around the "Vs."
or "Vitalogy" era of the band. High intensity
from Vedder here, along with a nice guitar part
and a tight rhythm section. Not the greatest song
they've ever written, but a nice return to form
for the band. RATING: 7
Wide Suicide" I like this one
as well. Great groove that Vedder sings to perfectly.
It has a traditional song structure, which I think
was lacking in the past couple of releases for the
band. It's a "no-risk" song formula; but
more importantly, it's effective. RATING: 7
Urrrrrgh! Really tight and strained vocal
sound on this thrashy Nirvana-like song. Just a
simple punk song is really what this is, and it's
not too bad. RATING: 5
Hand" Another fast-paced song
with a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure.
Once again we have a jamming guitar solo that winds
down the tune. Again, not a bad song, but nothing
great either. RATING: 5
"Marker In The Sand"
We finally get something a little different
on this one. This is a little more on the pop side
of things. Vedder usually lights songs like this
one up, but he comes up a bit short on this one.
A nice, almost folk, sing along chorus, but a stronger
vocal would've helped this one a lot. RATING:
Wow. This is a total departure from what
we've heard so far. A soft, Neil Young-type of acoustic
ballad. Weak vocals again, only this time we get
a boring song that goes nowhere in the background.
Much much better. This is a really good song.
It almost has a 70's pop vibe to it, especially
in the chorus. This is the strongest performance
from Vedder thus far. This just has a really cool
feel to it - free and easy. RATING: 8
8: "Big Wave"
The band goes back to the thrashy punk sound
for this one, which reminds me of Soundgarden's
"My Wave" in both title and sound. A guitar
solo thrown in here makes me smile; we don't get
enough of those these days. Nothing special, but
not horrible. RATING: 4
The slow and soft verses give Vedder a chance
to shine like he did on earlier Pearl Jam songs
like "Crazy Mary" or "Yellow Ledbetter,"
but he still falls a little short. Not a bad vocal
performance, but Vedder is just not as powerful
as he once was. Instead of giving me chills on songs
like this, he just sounds like any average singer.
This is a really well written song all the same
though. RATING: 6
Reprise" Nice organ in this tune
in which Vedder just sings a small portion of the
chorus of "Life Wasted" in his best Neil
Young impression. This is just a little 52 second
filler piece, and I think a rating would be inappropriate.
Reserve" This is a hard song
to describe because it has an almost U2 kind of
instrumental sound, but it has a vocal track that
is intense and rough. There is nothing that really
sets this song apart from any of the rest. The songs
are starting to repeat themselves at this point.
A pretty good song, but very typical. RATING:
Back" A nice easy going crooner
that allows Vedder another chance to thrill, but
again he comes across as an average singer. Might
be his best performance on the record, but it's
not the Eddie of old. A lovely guitar part picks
up the end of the track, as does an intense Vedder.
Not a bad song, but it does run a little long. RATING:
Job" Has a bit of a Pink Floyd
/ "Welcome To The Machine" intro
interesting. The first half of the song is really
slow and moody, with a really nice bass line and
some perfectly placed piano accents. Halfway through,
the song picks up and becomes another typical song
on the album. But, for being 7 minutes long, it
does hold your interest pretty well. RATING:
RATING: 5 "DEAD"
was really a tough one to pronounce "DEAD,"
because this really isn't a bad record. There are
some real nice things happening here, and it is
a return to form somewhat, but I don't picture myself
going back to this one very often. This is one of
the better outings since "Vitalogy," but
this is not the emotionally charged Pearl Jam that
was all about grabbing you and squeezing the soul
of your humanity. That hunger and passion from the
early years is still lacking. The strength and tone
of Eddie Vedder's voice was enough to keep the most
macho of men sobbing in their beer; but, that intensity
is not there anymore. Instead of these songs sending
a chill down my spine, I realized that the chill
is gone . . . the chill has gone away.
to Archives |