I remember when I was eight years old. That was the year I started playing guitar. That was the year I had my first crush. That was also the year that I bought my first album. That album was Pearl Jam’s masterpiece of a debut Ten
, and ever since then, I haven't looked back from ol' "Mookie Blaylock" (the band's original name). Needless to say, Pearl Jam are one of my favorite bands. That’s one of the few constants on my ever-changing palette of musical taste. I don't foresee that changing anytime soon.
Pearl Jam have had a long, tumultuous history from their humble beginnings as a product of the "Seattle Explosion's" grunge acts. Thus, Pearl Jam has had a lot of people involved with them over the years (have you seen all the line-up changes?!). This of course is a good thing, as it has allowed the band to branch off in several different directions, making for a unique surprise on every album they release.
Their latest effort, Pearl Jam
, is no exception. The album on the whole recalls Pearl Jam of the past, but still shows that grunge's biggest act can simultaneously reinvent themselves into something even greater. This is a feat that few bands (especially many great ones) fail to pull off with success.
The albums begins with "Life Wasted." I can't imagine a better way to start an album. Mike Macready’s typically rough guitar lines compliment front man Eddie Vedder's voice perfectly. It's been a while, but these guys show off that they can still rock (and do a pretty damn good job of it, I must say). The next song is the album's single "World Wide Suicide." Slightly light hearted, this song may recall Pearl Jam's No Code
days (which in my opinion is a very good thing). I can honestly say that "World Wide Suicide" is another worthy addition to Pearl Jam's legendary singles catalog (not to compare it to any of the others; I'll leave such a conclusion up to you, dear reader).
Next up we have "Comatose." This one has a very angry sound about it. This is good, because Pearl Jam do angst and frustration very, very well. Vedder’s voice reaches a shriek like pitch on this one (hardly a bad thing) and a fair (albeit short) guitar solo from McCready make this concise song a nice change of pace for the album. One of my favorites off of this album comes next. "Severed Hand" has the 'right stuff'. It's Pearl Jam, damn it! And with this kind of sound, it sure doesn’t seem afraid to admit it. "Marker in the Sand" is the next track. Catchy, melodic, and typically grungy, this is another one of Pearl Jam
's greatest. I’m particularly a fan of the vocals and drumming on this one. Matt Cameron flexes his chops in a somewhat restrained way behind the skins (which works, methinks).
Ah, finally something soft. What Pearl Jam album would be complete without a song of this nature? "Parachutes" is certainly not the best song that this album has to offer, but it's certainly different. It sounds almost as if Pearl Jam are playing at trying to sound like an 80s pop-rock band on this one. Another one of my favorites would be "Unemployable." Great lyrics and great music form great synergy on this track. Again, the guitar work and drumming are commendable. We start the hard rocking again with "Big Wave." There's not much to say about this song: It's Pearl Jam doing what they do best. Give it a listen for yourself and you’ll hear.
And now we come to what is (in my humble opinion) one of the two greatest songs on this album. The tranquil "Gone." My favorite song on the album combines all the elements I love of Pearl Jam: Wonderful lyrics; beautiful, hooky music; and a message. This song is by far one of Pearl Jam’s greatest accomplishments, and the definitive "Must-Listen" from their self-titled album.
"Wasted Reprise" is a simple intro for the amazing "Army Reserve." For some reason, this song seems to make me draw similarities to U2's legendary "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Call me crazy, but that's just what it makes me recall. Perfectly synced lyrics and music make this one another one of this album's best tracks. The soft "Come Back" has a very "country" feel to it. I’m not a fan of country music, but I suppose I could warm up to it a little more if it sounded slightly more like this song.
The final song, the epic (well, for this album; clocking in at 7:08) "Inside Job" is my other favorite from Pearl Jam
. Eddie Vedder does some amazing singing on this one, and Macready’s guitar work is fabulous. This is one impressive song, and another “Must-Listen” from this album. A perfect ending to an excellent album.
Pearl Jam continue to do a great job of staying fresh and innovative. Their latest work showcases songwriting from every era they've been through, and even some of their own progressions. While it may not impress as much as classics like Ten
or No Code
, Pearl Jam’s self-titled release is one hell of an album. I highly recommend looking into it, whether you're an old fan of the band's, or someone just wetting their feet in the waters that are "Mookie Blaylock."