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Pearl Jam Self Titled Review


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Review of Pearl Jam by Pearl Jam, May 2, 2006

An explosive reintroduction of the grunge band, famous for their contributions in the scene during the early 90s. After 4 years hiatus gets the job done with a gritty yet coaxing mix of growled politics and screeching guitars. This, coming off of two albums that are generally considered their weakest by the cult like fan base that keeps these guys alive and touring. As a whole, the self-titled album is sleazier than anything they’ve EVER done and possibly the strongest and most focused album since they battled Ticketmaster with the incendiary V.S. Though still incendiary, Pearl Jam has a new battleground for their angst, and these politics are clearly displayed throughout with titles such as “World Wide Suicide” and “Marker in the Sand.”

Starting off the album “Life Wasted” shows Eddie looking back into his past and facing it. Upbeat and “punk” with growled lyrics and fuzzy guitars, this really gets the ball rolling. The only misstep I can detect is the second bridge when it slows down flowing into the next chorus, which gets a little messy, but is perhaps saved by McCready’s wah-wah lead and then an explosive outro solo a la Even Flow which signals a recurring theme of heavily distorted jam-guitar solos rarely seen in recent Pearl Jam discography.

The first single already released, World Wide Suicide, slows the pace down a bit, but not too much. The verse melody is weak and rather aimless yet comes together somehow in the bridge and chorus to bring in a rousing political statement of 21st century proportion. Hooky and pop-tastic, it’s still got balls with doubled vocals adding a surprise layer along with an emotional scream to boot.

Comatose is Blood from V.S. with some extra thought put into it. The riff and vocal styling is almost exact yet with textured guitar harmonies and a raging solo after a building bridge... and they hit the money for me.

U2 must have lost one of there song sheets because they are clearly influenced here with the “Beautiful Day” styled double tracked vocals on one of the strongest tracks “Severed Hand. The soaring intro, straight from Achtung Baby or Joshua Tree culminates in a groovy riff, an interesting chord progression with a contrasting melody from Eddie, and a hooky chorus. Finally, one of the best guitar solos on the album that trades between McCready and Gossard at the end of the song and leaves little to be desired from the quintet.

Marker in the Sand takes incendiary to another level with lyrics such as “Now you got both sides / claiming killing in God’s name / but God is nowhere to be found, conveniently.” There’s a cool riff, poppy chorus, and an awesome instrumental break, which shows off Matt Cameron’s fluent groove in the band mirroring the guitar licks with precision.

Slowing down the pace for a brief couple of minutes, Parachutes sends you spinning into a dreamy state with acoustic candy with beautiful baritone vocals weaving in and out of the music with lyrics sending a message to the White House. This was nicely constructed and layered perfectly so that every instrument got a piece of the pie whether it was an organ, optigon or most notably, the acoustic guitar.

Unemployable is the first dud, passing off a second rate Aerosmith sleazy guitar riff and going nowhere with it. The instrumental secontion smack dab in the middle of the song kills the mood and the momentum built up by the semi-catchy chorus and the song just falls apart for me.

Big Wave picks up the slack from the less than perfect prior song and riffs through with unrelenting lyrics and wah-wah groove to make Jimi Hendrix fans scream in their seats. Unfortunately though, this is the last rocking tune on the album and the rest dives into a swirl of acoustics and indulgent musical mid-tempos.

The second acoustic song on the album, “Gone” mixes a sadly political mood of “Immortality,” infectious melody of “Daughter,” and the power of “Given to Fly.” This sent shivers down my spine the first time I listened to it, reminding me once again why I listen to this type of music.

Life Wasted Reprise has a cool organ put to the chorus to the opener and thus we’re sent into the beginning of the end.

Taking another crack at the morals of war, Army Reserves is from the perspective of the Wife at home with a man away fighting. Nicely layered, as with the rest of the album, the song seems to go nowhere putting aside Eddie’s crescendo’d vocals, but the band does nothing except go off into a jam like instrumental without many hooks in-between. A weaker song out of the discography, I find the message to be the most influencing and lasting impression of the song.

“Come Back” is a slow paced, experimental, R+B a la 1955. It is the most experimental the band gets (aside from the next song) and the style writhing without much buoyancy. A slightly timid and wavering Eddie does not execute the vocals with any affirmation and tends to “search” for notes at the end of phrases. This rather plagues the song throughout and is another weaker track.

The first song penned almost entirely by McCready has an epic “Zeppelin” feel to the song structure lends itself as being one of Pearl Jam’s best musical numbers of their entire career although the lyrics are rather lacking (but good try!). When the drums kick in the song over 3 minutes into the song, it really moves and allows for a final guitar solo to end the album with epic status as I get the feeling the song culminates with a dramatic crash at the end and a few piano tinkles to clock it in over 7 minutes!

As a whole, the album flows nicely with the second side lacking in one more rocking tune that could have replaced one of the slower number, but true to form in separating the tempos (as the certainly have done in past albums and compilations) it is far from unexpected. The production is state of the art and has a “live” feel to it that Pearl Jam tends to recreate in the studio. Musically, I cannot stress once again how great the guitar lines sound and it is certainly one album that fans of Gossard and McCready will cherish. And for those that don’t, sorry (this means you ODS :rolleyes: ).

OVERALL - 8.5 out of 10

Edited by stevGNR666
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i liked the review... here's mine in short....

love wasted- awesome song, hard rocker type style, nice opening to the album...

WWS- good song.. i like it the lyrics and all

Comatose- i didnt like this song all that much... can't hear vedder

loved severed hand and marker in the hand... the fact that they are back to back makes it awesome

parachutes- pearl jam gone in another direction to make this weird yet good song..

unemployable- good song as well here imo... i liked it

big wave- this i thought may be just ok..it seemed like a filler

gone- awesome song.one of my favorites

wasted reprise- good song...takes us back to the start

army reserve, come back, and inside job- awesome songs that really ended the album well....

OVERALL i thought it was an amazing album by pearl jam....vedder is back

rock1 rock3rock3

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