Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam

May 12, 2006

Out of the big four bands of the Seattle Grunge era of the early nineties, only two remain. And one has only resurfaced recently to do a small tour. That band is Alice in Chains. But the only band that has continued to create albums since their debut to this very day is Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam has always been a special band to me, and I remember hearing most of their songs on the radio when I was just a little kid. One of my parents would often play albums by the band over and over, and the tunes got burned into my head.

So when I rediscovered Pearl Jam some years later, I already knew a good deal of the songs. The nostalgia is probably why I like the band as much as I do now. I can hum most of their songs. But that nostalgia is a result of me listening the crap out of those songs for years. When you hear a new album, you really need to play it over and over to truly find what the album has to offer. I will probably never get any nostalgia from Pearl Jams newest self titled release, simply because my childhood has already come and gone. And to be honest with you, most fond memories and nostalgia come from when you are a kid. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have those fantastic memories from another part of your life. And those kinds of childhood memories aren’t even the best kinds of memories. But they are ominous, and really deep. So this is really my first Pearl Jam album where I can form an opinion on it that is nonbiast, and more straight from me, because upon hearing this album in it’s entirety, I haven’t already had every song on it crammed into my brain.

It’s good. I’ll say that right off. I’m sure most Pearl Jam fans who have been watching the reviews have been hearing that it is a really straightforward album. That couldn’t be more true. Most Pearl Jam albums kick off with a strong set of opening tracks and charge forward for a little bit, drift off into obscurity for a little bit, come back kicking ass, and then end on either a strange or strong note. S/T does this too, a little, in that it is an album that really develops. It’s first five tracks, including the hit single World Wide Suicide, are fantastic. Then the album mellows out just a little bit, and drifts back upward into longer more interesting sounding songs until it’s glorius conclusion. If you could view an albums strength by statistics, this might be the best Pearl Jam album yet. But you can’t, and the songs are new, so you kind of need to get into them a little.

Yeah, the first five songs are all real ass kickers. The awesome guitar duo of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard are still great at crating riffs that can catch your ear, and Eddie Vedder still really knows how to write the lyrics. While tunes like Life Wasted and Marker in the Sand sound like they cover territory that has already been explored, they are still just generally rocking tracks. Comatose is the revival of another classic Pearl Jam tendency; it’s a fast ass kicking short rocker that has great catchy vocals. World Wide Suicide at first sounds like a song built around a title, but it later opens up to be more than that, and gets more enjoyable after every listen.

Then the album mellows out with Parachutes, almost a tropical love tune. It might be the best song on the album. It’s not classic Pearl Jam right away, but once you get used to the lyrics, it opens up too. Unemployable is an autumny 70s type tune which is much more accessible than most other songs on the album. Big Wave is kind of weak, but the chorus is cool. Same with Gone. You have to listen to that one for a while to understand it, because the song itself is not completely consistant. It starts out slow and minor and eventually grows to be the exact opposite. It’s a good song. Then we have a brief reprise of Life Wasted, and we are launched into Army Reserve, which is really vintage Pearl Jam. It’s catchy and almost a litte Psychedelic. Come Back is a Yellow Ledbetter type tune, but to be honest with you, it’s not that great. It’s just kind of weak to me, but everyone else seems to love it, so what do I know? And then we end the album with Inside Job, an extremely strong song involving a change of heart and an a great developing tune that covers a lot of ground.

It’s a really good disc. It’s exactly what a Pearl Jam fan could want too, because Pearl Jam fans understand that you really need to listen to Pearl jam a lot to understand and like them fully. This may be the bands most consistant and solid album ever, and it might be my favorite album they have made too, and I have almost all of their albums. Just give it a little time, that’s all I ask.

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