Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Pearl Jam - Backspacer. Surprisingly...really, really good. No seriously.

Well slap me silly and call me Ivanka...I'll be damned if Eddie Vedder and Co didn't just cockslap the entire rock-world with the new LP dropping in a few weeks. Clocking in at just over 36 minutes, they rip through 11 tracks on what's their shortest album to date by a country-mile. I guess someone finally told Eddie that every album doesn't need to be an attempt to solve your fucking life with overdrawn out, bland, tired styles.

Don't get me wrong, they certainly don't sound extremely different or anything, but the way that they just play the songs sounds a lot more tight, sincere, and perhaps most importantly, fun. Vedder's just a dude who likes writing songs about his fucked up childhood and where he thinks his life's headed, and this is the first album since Yield where it just sounds like he's cool with being that type of guy. Gone are the overindulgent filler tracks that plagued their last 3 albums, and they clearly went into the studio with the goal of ripping through some classical sounding rock songs without concentrating too much on developing the album as a whole. And you know what? It works. The album is sequenced perfectly and they leave you wanting more at the end (something they've failed to do for quite some time now). To quote Joel Goodson: "Sometimes you just have to say 'what the fuck,' and make your move." And that's what this album is, it's the Joel Goodson of Pearl Jam albums.

It's good to hear them playing in top form again, because it's been a while. It's been 11 years since they released an overall legitimately good album (Yield in '98), so it's a breath of fresh air to know that Pearl Jam is still out there after all these years, still capable of handing me a LP that I can really sink my teeth into. I was 10 years old when Ten came out, and as man in his late-twenties, I think I'm OK with Pearl Jam releasing crappy albums from time to time so long as they still hand me stuff like this once or twice per decade. This is pop-grunge at its best, and ain't nothin' wrong with that. Welcome back boys.

Grade: A-

Here's a few of my favorites:

Amongst the Waves

Johnny Guitar

Force of Nature

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