12 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even at their loosest, Pearl Jam have sounded as if they were delivering a sermon from the mount. No amount of partying can change the serious tonalities found in Eddie Vedder’s every scream. The band, however, can speed up and the songs can be tightened to land a formidable punch. Backspacer does exactly that. “Gonna See My Friend” and “Got Some” charge with punk rock ferocity. When they slow the tempo ever so slightly for the sudden positivity of “The Fixer” (with its “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus), it’s with a seductive swerve in its groove. The powerchords of “Johnny Guitar” set a firm framework for Vedder to sing with economy and let the music go for the knockout. It isn’t until track five that a breather comes in the form of a Jethro Tull-styled bucolic ballad, “Just Breathe.” Here, and on the album’s closer, “The End,” Vedder sings with the reflective sensitivity he brought to the soundtrack of Into the Wild. “Amongst the Waves “ and “Unthought Known” are closest to the group’s standard breast-beating melodramatic flair. Seventeen years on, the band still loves what they do.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even at their loosest, Pearl Jam have sounded as if they were delivering a sermon from the mount. No amount of partying can change the serious tonalities found in Eddie Vedder’s every scream. The band, however, can speed up and the songs can be tightened to land a formidable punch. Backspacer does exactly that. “Gonna See My Friend” and “Got Some” charge with punk rock ferocity. When they slow the tempo ever so slightly for the sudden positivity of “The Fixer” (with its “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus), it’s with a seductive swerve in its groove. The powerchords of “Johnny Guitar” set a firm framework for Vedder to sing with economy and let the music go for the knockout. It isn’t until track five that a breather comes in the form of a Jethro Tull-styled bucolic ballad, “Just Breathe.” Here, and on the album’s closer, “The End,” Vedder sings with the reflective sensitivity he brought to the soundtrack of Into the Wild. “Amongst the Waves “ and “Unthought Known” are closest to the group’s standard breast-beating melodramatic flair. Seventeen years on, the band still loves what they do.

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