By 1991 music was changing. The popular metal bands that ruled the 80s had faded out and a new kind of music was starting to take shape. It was known as grunge. Although grunge is a pretty unspecific genre, its basically defined as music popular in the early 90s that was punk and indie rock influenced. Grunge was raw, wild, and sometimes dark. It sounded refreshed and new but still crazy and energized. When the Seattle grunge scene broke out in 1991, two bands, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, were considered the grunge kings and mercilessly ruled the pop charts for a few short years. They each had extremely popular 1991 albums. Pearl Jam had Ten and Nirvana had Nevermind. By 1993, their highly anticipated follow ups were due. Nirvana released In Utero, which was an immediate disappointment to fans, but is now considered one of the greatest albums of the 90s, and Pearl Jam released their second album, Vs. Vs. was diffidently a change. Not as much as some artists change between albums, but a change none the less. It did not sell as well Ten, but many people consider it to be almost just as good. Vs. sounded more developed then ten. You can tell on the record that it was recorded differently and Pearl Jams sound had changed, but the main difference between the two is that Vs. didn’t sound as dark and haunting, but sometimes more catchy and friendly. Though not all the tracks are like that. Some songs still sound just as raw and aggressive as songs from Ten, yet still theres that difference, but forget about the change, this record is still Pearl Jam; made by the exact same people (well they had gotten a different drummer but otherwise the same) with the same talents in instrumentation and songwriting just making music at a slightly different time.
As the common listener first excitedly pops Vs. into their CD player, they happily find the same aggressive style they are looking for with Go. Go is fast with a powerful bass line under distorted guitars and Eddie Vedders famous, fierce vocals screaming "Please; don’t go on me" during the chorus. Also, some very familiar Mike Mcready wah wah solos are thrown in between choruses making this another classic Pearl Jam song and an excellent opener. Next a similar song, Animal, begins with a heavy guitar riff thats slightly slower than the previous, but still awesome. Again Eddie Vedder displays his amazing vocals with some meaningful lyrics as Mike goes through another set of crazy guitar solos that create another wonderful energized song. So far Vs. seems very similar to Ten, but careful, only the first 6 minuets have gone by.
And now the listener discovers the change. Luckily, its satisfying, for the next song, Daughter, is a simple masterpiece. Daughter starts with some catchy acoustic strumming and then before the song is at full force, Eddie begins to tell the tale of a little girl. This song is much much less aggressive and raw then their previous material and just as less dark. Daughter is just a simple, beautiful acoustic ballad with a wonderful chorus and fitting guitar solo. A lovely change in moods that is seen later on the album with Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. Then the album continues, but the listener finds no Gos or Animals in the few songs to come. Nor does he or she find any acoustic ballads but three unique and great songs. The first is Glorified G. It has a very different sound from what Pearl Jam fans might be used to. It sounds a little more country or southern rock influenced and less grunge like, but don’t worry if youre not a fan of such songs because Glorified G is still a great track. It starts with some nice high, distorted picking with the bass and the second guitar backing it up. Then the music changes a little when Eddie comes in singing sarcastically, "Got a Gun. Fact I got two, but thats ok man cause I love guns." The song continues and becomes, with Eddie showing off his vocal range in a bridge right before a nice guitar solo, a possible favorite. Next is Dissident. It also starts with some high distorted picking, but don’t be mistaken because this song is very different from its predecessor. Dissident is more powerful and serious then Glorified G. As the softer verse begins, Eddies vocals sound more beautiful, meaningful, and heart warming especially in the chorus singing over the same picking heard in the intro. After a second verse, the song ends epicily as Eddie belts out the chorus while everyone else keeps the song moving. Overall, a great song that combines beautiful with forceful. After Dissident, W.M.A. starts with some fast bongos and a loud bass line that continues for a long while. This song is very strange. Its 6 minuets long and not much really happens in it. Its supposed to be more vocal and lyrical focused, but none the less its fairly repetitive and boring. Some chanting later on in the song creates a very unique feeling, but that doesn’t do enough. Its not bad, but diffidently a low light on the album. So now the listener realizes that Vs. is different and in general, Vs. changes a lot after the first two songs and Pearl Jam really have a variety of tracks to offer on this album.
As Vs. reaches its middle, Pearl Jam returns to a more energy and grunge like song, Blood, that is more similar to the first two tracks. Blood begins at full throttle with fast based power chords that pop in and out between Eddie Vedders energetic, fierce vocals over some fitting wah wah. Its the shortest song on the album, but has the most energetic vocals out of all the songs. Though the sudden change in volume throughout the track, while quite cool, gets annoying, overall, this is another great song and an enjoyable listen. Next probably the most well known song on the album, Rearviewmirror, begins with a unique riff that is followed by Eddies amazing vocals and then a wonderful, but fairly unfitting chorus. Eddies singing is not very energetic at first on this track, but that makes the ending of the song even better as the energy flows out into an epic ending and probably the highlight point of the whole album as he sings "So be so much clearer. Want you. Rearviewmirror!", as the songs energy builds up and up for quite a long while until it finally ends. In conclusion, Rearviewmirror, although the verse and the chorus don’t fit perfectly, may be the highlight of the whole album. After Rearviewmirror is Rats. Rats is another different song. It starts out with a powerful bass line and the deep vocals come in and sing very clearly about rats. Although this song is pretty entertaining and features a slide guitar towards the end, its really just an average song and nothing too special.
Taking a break from the more grunge like songs, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town shows how Pearl Jam can switch from fierce and aggressive to beautiful and acoustic in a blink of an eye. Elderly Woman is a wonderful mellow song that tells a nice but undepthful story. Not a ton happens in the song, and its not quite as catchy as Daughter, but it truly is a wonderful track. Just as Eddies voice and guitar fade out you begin to hear a rumbling Jeff Ament bass and you know whats coming. Yep, its another aggressive grunge song this time known as Leash. Leash is a very energetic song with great vocals and instrumentation. It has a more melodic chorus than songs like Go and Blood and its a nice change as the band sings "Drop the leash we are young drop the leash"as Eddie adds to it with "Get out of our ***ing face!" Leash ends with a stellar guitar solo and becomes good enough to rival with songs such as Why Go and Animal. Just as Ten ended with the soft, mellow Release, Vs. does similarly with Indifference. Indifference is quiet, nice, and relaxing. Eddies voice sounds emotional and haunting. A deep bass line and a creepy organ make this a wonderfully unique track. Although it is a tad bit boring, it is a wonderful and beautiful way to end Vs.
Pearl Jam is a very talented band. They each play their instruments very well and Eddie Vedders singing is like nothing else. Still fresh in their long career, its no surprise Vs. is very energetic and well written. Although Vs. might not quite be up to par with Ten, this album is still very satisfying and displays a nice variety of songs ranging from wild grunge tracks to beautiful acoustic melodies. I recommend Pearl Jam and this album to any modern rock or grunge lover and if you do not know Pearl Jams music Vs. is an excellent place to start. Overall, Vs. is a very well written, energetic grunge album that in most cases should not disappoint.
+Variety of songs
+Eddie Vedders vocals
-A couple of songs can be a little boring
-It does not flow as well as Ten
Please comment and enjoy
Flea is Godly