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Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam Review

by Zane Ewton

Finally! A real rock and roll record. For too long, the big name bands have promised exciting rock records that either fade into adult contemporary (U2, Coldplay) or just flat out disappoint (pretty much everyone else). It is refreshing to hear an album that is simply a great rock band making some great music.

Pearl Jam has some baggage; nothing weighs more than their debut album, Ten. The band has spent the better part of their career deconstructing much of what made Ten the classic it is heralded as. That being said, don't assume Pearl Jam is a throwback to that album, or any of the other great albums this band has released.

For the first time in years Pearl Jam sounds energized and engaged beyond measure. The guitars are turned up and distorted, Vedder's vocals may be his most excited yet, there are more rockers than ballads and finally the band has added some muscle to their message. If you want to be heard these days; you need to shout over the noise.

There has actually been some hype surrounding this release, a rarity for the normally low key band that stopped making music videos. What's the point? The videos wouldn't be played and hype generally leads to disappointment. Pearl Jam doesn't disappoint. Lead single "World Wide Suicide" is a perfect primer for the album, exemplifying the rough and rowdy mood of the album.

The energy reaches high early in the album, particularly on the fuzzed-out AC/DC like "Comatose" and the funky "Severed Hand". Not until the oddly beautiful "Parachutes" does the record calm down. The second half lies on a more even keel but never fails to please; for example the outstanding, near closer "Come Back".

Many bands have waited for several albums before attaching their name as the album title. This offers a chance for the band to reassess where they are going or just lay everything out on the line. This record is Pearl Jam laying it on the line and demonstrating they want to be a rock band again, in the grandest sense. They never really left but it feels as though they have been gone for years. It's good to have Pearl Jam back.

Editor's note: it should be noted that this review comes courtesy of Zane. While we requested a review copy of this CD, it never came (maybe the label spent their online review budget on donuts for Clive's photo op?) and Zane purchased this disc and felt so strongly that he wrote this review on his own. So that says that much more for it!

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Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam

Label:J Records

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