Pearl Jam
Vitalogy


3.5
great

Review

by Edmund Blackadder USER (32 Reviews)
July 10th, 2009 | 126 replies | 25,228 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 'Restless soul, enjoy your youth'...

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Pearl Jam
Vitalogy
Epic Records, 1994

Pearl Jam is...
Eddie Vedder: Vocals
Mike McCready: Guitar
Stone Gossard: Guitar
Jeff Ament: Bass
Dave Abbruzzese: Drums

In 1994, following the release and tour of their second album, Vs., Pearl Jam once again paid a visit to their studio in Seattle, deciding to record their new album, Vitalogy. While Vs. had been a melancholy, experimental record, in stark contrast to their debut Ten, the members of Pearl Jam had different plans and a new direction in which to take their music. The strange album cover and packaging, made to make like an old medical booklet, proves that this new style of music is going to be a strange one.

Lyrically, this album is dark as hell. While previous Pearl Jam songs showcased a type of depression and sadness, this has been greatly emphasized here, making the lyrics seem like they deal with hopelessness without salvation. Eddie Vedder has superb songwriting talent, and certainly manages to showcase it here. Drug addiction, lost love, death, and pain are all issues touched upon here, as well as the death of Kurt Kobain in the beautiful 'Immortality'. Interestingly, the most lyrically pleasant song is also the most musical aggressive. 'Spin The Black Circle', while it comes off as an angry punk rock song, is actually written about the band's love of vinyl records.

Although it may be due to different production, Eddie Vedder's vocals seem to have been down-tuned from the previous two albums. His voice seems to be less clear and more hoarse than ever before. Despite these minor changes in the vocal style, Vedder's performance as a singer is still outstanding. He is capable of screaming and shouting on the hard rock tracks ('Spin The Black Circle', 'Whipping'), and singing softly and calmly on the ballads ('Better Man', 'Nothingman', 'Immortality'). This vocal range and dexterity make this album all the more enjoyable to listen to.

Vitalogy takes an entirely new musical direction, with the instrumental section shifting their styles altogether. Many songs have a near funky beat to them, while the ballads are softer and eerier than ever before. Various guitar effects are applied here to give each song a different feeling and tone. The guitar solos found on previous Vs. and Ten have become almost non existent, with the guitars often holding the same riff for entire songs. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, certain sections in songs feel like they could use a brief guitar solo. The bass is often very hard to hear over the guitar and vocal noise, which is another disappointment, due to the fact the Jeff Ament is a very adept bassist, capable of writing spectacular bass lines. The drumming is also quite straightforward, with no real focus on technicality or proficiency. This works fairly well with the rest of the album, but sometimes the repetitive beats can start to lose their charm as their respective song trudges on.

Great improvements have been made on the ballads found here. Each one of the three ballads manage to be unique and interesting. 'Nothingman' is moody and atmospheric, with a slow buildup and depressing lyrics. 'Better Man' builds up with the various instruments joining in, eventually becoming a full out rocker. 'Immortality' manages to be gorgeous, profound, catchy, and instrumentally sound, shifting tempos and providing an amazing musical experience.

Out of all of the issues that manage to befall Vitalogy, the major one is the overuse of filler. The songs that are meant to be experimental and interesting just manage to come off as being rather boring filler. This is particularly true with the album closer, 'Hey Foxmandlephelia, That's Me'. This song is a song designed to test patience and metal health. At more than seven minutes, it is the longest song on the album, and by far the most tedious. It is mostly made up of strange effects and unpleasant drum beats with strange, distorted, repetitive vocals repeating over top. 'Pry, To', while only a minute long, is extraordinarily unnecessary. The interesting guitar and drums found on this song make it into a disappointment as well as an annoyance, as it is clear that they could have made an entirely new, better song off of their instrumental material. 'Aye Davanita' is interesting at first, but eventually wears out it's welcome. 'Bugs' has some interesting, comical lyrics and interesting musical backing that seems as if it belongs on a Tom Waits album. However, like most filler, the charm of listening to it wears off quite quickly.

Overall, Vitalogy is quite a solid album, and shows Pearl Jam taking yet another direction with their music. While not as consistent and their previous albums, it is still an enjoyable listen, and, despite all of it's issues, manages to be quite excellent.

Recommended Tracks
-Nothingman
-Better Man
-Immortality
-Corduroy
-Not For You
-Spin The Black Circle



Recent reviews by this author
The Rolling Stones Beggars BanquetLou Reed Transformer
Testament Practice What You PreachNine Inch Nails The Slip
Nine Inch Nails Year ZeroNine Inch Nails With Teeth
user ratings (1126)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jordan CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
Control Myself, CHAPTER 3: "Shed My Skin At Last..."...

YoYoMancuso (4.5)
Simply put one of the best hard rock records of our generation....

tom79 (4.5)
...

AfroMan (4)
...

related reviews

Ten

Vs.

Binaural

Riot Act

Comments:Add a Comment 
shindip
July 10th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is my fourth favourite PJ album

PuddlesPuddles
July 10th 2009



4772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My singer's obsessed with this album

Great review shindip

WatchItExplode
July 10th 2009



3213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't say this is my favorite PJ but seems to get the most plays these days...

I got bugs on my skin Tickle my nausea

Love the craziness of this release, do not consider it filler. Good review, you're really spitting these out

Nagrarok
July 10th 2009



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review's great. I like PJ's first three best as of now. Last Exit, Spin the Black Circle and Immortality are my favs.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2009



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

another great review. this is probably my fav pj album other than ten. like you said, the ballads are stunning.

ConorMichaelJoseph
July 10th 2009



1870 Comments


Great review, though not exactly my favourite PJ album either. Still some interesting tracks on this as they were breaking away further from the sound of Ten

cvlts
July 10th 2009



8954 Comments


this is your best pj review so far... good job, pos

SmurkinGherkin
July 11th 2009



1769 Comments


metal health


Is this supposed to be mental health?

Good review.

MassiveAttack
July 11th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

There are some hidden gems in here, but I didn't like the experimentation side of things. Call me ol' fashioned =)

NebSnurb
August 18th 2009



535 Comments


I need to listen to this album, I always loved select songs of it.

NEVERfade
August 12th 2010



376 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nothingman is a great song

Jarvig
January 19th 2011



168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A bit too "punk" for me. More grunge/alt rock from PJ.

But there are some great songs: Better Man, Nothingman, Immortality, Tremor Christ and Corduroy are super tunes.

BigHans
January 19th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love about 55% of this and abhorrently despise the rest.

Nagrarok
January 19th 2011



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like some of the experimentation on this but maybe a 4 is too high.

omnipanzer
January 19th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album, loved it since the day it came out.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2011



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This has some of their best ever songs (Nothingman, Better Man) but some of the excessive experimentation drags it down imo.

DinoX
June 28th 2011



3582 Comments


This sounds like something I'd like. Perhaps this would be a good place to start with the band.

Nagrarok
June 28th 2011



8170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^Ten is easily the best place to start.

EyesWideShut
July 29th 2011



3119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pearl Jam sound raw and darker, just tha way i luv em'.

Was Hey Foxy recorded from mental patients? and its really sad they could never come close to this ever again.

dammets
July 29th 2011



2035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need to get this.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy