Pearl Jam are a band forever torn between their desire to rock and their need to contemplate. Their debut album featured an intricate hard rock band who were re-calibrated by a new singer who carried his personal struggles and those of others like him on his shoulders. No matter how they hard they try to rock without guilt, it's who they are. Here, "Brain of J." and "Do The Evolution" charge at full strength, with raw guitar tones more in tune with sweaty rock clubs than the polish of a mega-sized arena. But it's the struggle one hears in the dynamics of "Faithful" and "All Those Yesterdays" that ties them tight to their audience. Even the album's first single "Given To Fly" openly uses Led Zeppelin's "Going To California" to speak to the devoted in coded musical language, while "Wishlist" was unafraid to remain simple and effective. It's why just when "grunge" bands of the early 1990s were often finding employment elsewhere, Pearl Jam were soldiering on in devotion to their creative impulses that's always felt to be in service of their fans.

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