Pearl Jam
Binaural


2.5
average

Review

by Jordan. CONTRIBUTOR (49 Reviews)
April 9th, 2014 | 25 replies | 1,350 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Control Myself, CHAPTER 6: “Standing on the Outside Hating Everyone Here…”

As Mike McCready reasons in PJ20, “Binaural came out at a time when people were saying, ‘well, maybe we’re over (sic)these guys now’”. As candid as any artist can be about their most awkward piece, McCready was right. Long since gone was the grunge movement that birthed them and brought them to prominence and gone too was Kurt Cobain, as of 1994 the martyr of the Seattle Scene. The preferred genre of the day was now nu-metal, and it was artists such as Limp Bizkit and KoRn that were garnering the most attention in the rock world. Pearl Jam at this point were now considered ‘old’- while they were soon to be classified as Rock & Roll Icons, they had to move through a difficult transitional period to get there- essentially the purpose and endgame of Binaural.

As much as the record is about proving unassailably that Pearl Jam were beyond the need to be classified by relevancy, it at times seems a band uncomfortable with their now uncertain career trajectory. The heavier moments get heavier and the ballads get more experimental and atmospheric, with the former relying on the albums uncontrollable trash presence on “Breakerfall” and “God’s Dice”, which utilize new drummer Matt Cameron (Soundgarden alum) to brilliant effect. Album closer “Parting Ways” too accentuates the latter, by providing a cold and atmospheric end to an album embittered by the 21st century.

However not all moments bear such brilliant hallmarks as the tracks that bookend the record. Brilliant though “Nothing As It Seems” and “Thin Air” are, they remain hampered by compositional and length issues that hold them back from confronting the listener as much as they should. A particularly poor vocal performance on “Evacuation” both scars and induces cringing with a muddy mix not assisting either in its development. Overall the tracks sound more like teething problems that should’ve happened earlier, now sounding like what the band were- uncomfortable with themselves and becoming laboured in the process.

Binaural would mark a period for Pearl Jam that no other band from the grunge movement could claim- a peak. While it left many albums from the likes of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden to age markedly better, by staying around so long Pearl Jam had guaranteed themselves a career far outliving that of any other band from the ‘grunge’ movement. A necessary failure by some extents of the word, Binaural provides the occasional heavy hitter tucked between fluff that hasn’t aged remarkably well. However, as ‘02s Riot Act would confirm, Pearl Jam were coming back confidently with a take no prisoner mentality that would soon wash away any lingering taste of the discomfort permeating this release.

NEXT: “A Texas Leaguer…”



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3.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2014



2012 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

An OK album, might bump it to a 3. Feedback appreciated

Digging: Mogwai - Young Team

dannyboy89
April 8th 2014



11952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review, even though I disagree. Then again, I'm a fanboy, this is one of my Top 10 bands personally.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 8th 2014



12950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

super underrated album

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

dannyboy89
April 8th 2014



11952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Agreed foxxxy.

I think Inbred digs it too.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2014



2012 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

it's definitely not their worst but i thought 2.5 was probably a fair assessment. "Breakerfall" is such an amazing song

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 8th 2014



12950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good read tho

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
April 8th 2014



12950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

jed rules

dannyboy89
April 8th 2014



11952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If I were to pick a fave on this, I'd go with Nothing as it Seems.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2014



2012 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

they never play anything from this which is a bit depressing. I'd love to hear Nothing as it Seems, Breakerfall and God's Dice live

BMDrummer
April 8th 2014



5826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Disagree, but good review.

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

RobbaqPL
April 9th 2014



158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Obviously not all of the songs work here, but I like this album quite a bit. The cover art really reflects the atmosphere the music conveys.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2014



3364 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

God's Dice, Of The Girl, Light Years, Rival and Insignificance are the best songs here.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Sciroccu
April 9th 2014



758 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, Insignificance is the best song here , u didn't even quote it in your review...


Tunaboy45
April 9th 2014



2028 Comments


Yeah good review man. I'm looking forward to your backspacer and lightning bolt reviews now.

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

tef
April 9th 2014



30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Strange review; you give it a 2,5 although you don't mention any bad songs but you do call a substantial number of songs "brilliant". I also don't see the relevance in how a song "ages". What does it mean? A song is good, mediocre or bad, no matter how it sounds or how it is executed. IMO there's a lot of good and very good songs on this album which are also executed very well.

greencorn5
April 9th 2014



194 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

IMO one of their weaker albums (this and Backspacer). However, even their weaker albums are really good.

jtswope
August 19th 2014



2064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And I know she's reached my heart in thiiin aiiiir...

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 19th 2014



12950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

up that rating joker

dannyboy89
August 19th 2014



11952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Sup

zakalwe
August 19th 2014



7368 Comments


Danny dude!!

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star



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