Review Summary: Never will you have a more enjoyable, exciting and energizing experience like this one offers at a constant rate... ever.
Pearl Jam, a household name, and a wonderfully-talented group that has rung a number of positive bells for years (ever since their glorious debut album in fact). They are most definitely a fantastic group that has stayed consistent for, literally, ever and that's the best news for everybody because the music they produce is of a high-quality that is very rare to find with other mainstream sources. With Ten
, they blew everyone away, they blew me away, with their unique sound and superb lyrics that often times more-than-not cut very deep. It was a fantastic album, the first I heard from them, but the question remained: Will they do better than this masterpiece?
Yes, and absolutely so.
Never will you have a more enjoyable, exciting and energizing experience like this one offers at a constant rate... ever. "Go" gets things going to perfection, a definite contrast from Ten
, as the band assemble an intro unlike any I've ever heard before where the lyrics are complete strange and random, and yet strangely amusing also. Thankfully they keep that momentum going with such tracks like "Animal", "Glorified G" and "Leash", as they too release rapid-fire statements with ease. Eddie Vedder dominates the vocals throughout, wrestling with some of the cleverest lyrics he's possibly ever encountered, as the band never fail to create the illusion of these stories coming to life before your eyes. An elegant example of that would be "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town", a beautifully played piece that can speak to anyone with a heart (or a pulse) with it's storytelling-type lyrics of a chance encounter, but the kind that lasts and makes for fond memories.
This album brings that to mind quite a bit, at least for myself: fond memories. The kind of memories that make you realize, "Oh yeah, that's why I'm alive". Those are the kind of memories that make meaningful, brilliant albums like this happen. When a lot of bands were singing about their open sex-lives, Pearl Jam were making music for the masses that wasn't just about sleeping with the lady across the bar from you. That kind of dreadful music causes bar fights and bathroom babies, meanwhile Pearl Jam gives birth to a little thing known as intelligent thinking (in listening to the music itself, at least). If they have a song I don't like, I have to think about it really
hard, with Maroon 5... not so much.
Speaking of which, dogs come to mind whenever this album arises in my brain (of J) and it's fantastic because dogs are totally awesome (unlike Maroon 5). "Animal" and "Leash" offer this especially well, "Leash" is the most satisfying offering however, with Vedder's stylish performance taking charge, spouting off lines like "Take my ****ing hand"
and "Get outta my ****ing face"
, and it's simply the best song on here because of it. And although "Indifference" seems to get quite a bit of flack from people, for whatever reason, I believe that it is a smooth and relaxing account on choosing not to care anymore, lyrics that ring this bell include "I'll swallow poison until I grow immune"
and "I'll stare the sun down until my eyes go blind"
... some of which I could only imagine would be extremely painful, but the way it's portrayed is so poetic. Often it comes off as less of another case of extreme boredom and more of a reflection on choosing to live a life where you make a difference, only to instead "stare the sun down until [your] eyes go blind"
On all possible fronts, this album never seizes to impress me. There is a lot of punch thrown into every word that is said on this record, and the rest of the members back those words to near-perfection. Groovy tracks like "Blood" and "Rats" only add to the joy that's to be had with this masterpiece, and there's not one bad track on here... at all, not even close. Pearl Jam would return to this style of songwriting and off-the-wall creativity with such future albums as Yield
and their most recent Backspacer
(which is somewhat underrated, and a lot better than most of their material from the past decade), but I find it hard to believe that they'll ever top this one. This album is just too good to overlook, the pacing is top-notch, the vocals are rich, the solos (when they come) are a joy, and it is (what I call) their best album by far.