Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
J Records
Hard Rock
13 songs (49'42")
Release year: 2006
Pearl Jam, J Records
Reviewed by Adam
Archive review
At the risk of biting the hand that feeds or sounding like a hypocrite, I am consistently flustered by music critics’ tendency to anoint an album or band with a certain moniker and pound this notion into their reading public. This is especially true of mainstream media, who are constantly dubbing a band “the next (insert major band name)” or an album a “return to form”. The latter is the label that is continuously heaped upon Pearl Jam’s self-titled 2006 album. I will flatly state that I disagree with this, as it misled many into thinking this album would hearken back to the sound of Ten, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you have disliked all of the recent Pearl Jam albums, then this self-titled album is not for you.

Now that the PSA portion of the review is out of the way, I will say that this is the best and most vigorous the band has sounded in some time. There is just an aura of confidence on Pearl Jam that is hard to define in words, but impossible to ignore when you listen. The album opens with the two singles that actually found a decent amount of mainstream radio airplay, Life Wasted and World Wide Suicide. Life Wasted musically doesn’t sound much different from the material on Riot Act or Binaural, but Vedder sings with extreme conviction and sounds almost angry, which adds a lot to the overall product. World Wide Suicide is the catchiest track by Pearl Jam in recent memory, and makes expert use of vocal harmonies, which are prevalent throughout the album. It is also the first of a few songs (Marker in the Sand, Army Reserve) on Pearl Jam to utilize politically charged lyrics, products of Eddie Vedder’s hatred of the George W Bush presidency. With this track and Severed Hand, another track of similar ilk musically, Vedder’s songwriting is showing marked improvement, even making room for some fantastic Mike McCready soloing in Severed Hand. Another aspect that I feel sets this album apart from the previous releases of this decade is the quality of the more subdued tracks like Parachutes, Gone, and Come Back. Parachutes is a wistful acoustic track that scores on all fronts, and once again (as in Riot Act) includes the organ talents of Boom Gaspar. Come Back has a real vintage lounge rock sound going for it, and is paced perfectly by Matt Cameron (back for a third album, unheard of in Pearl Jam annals). The closing track, Inside Job, is actually the one that deserves the most comparison to Ten or Vs, simply because of its structure and placement on the album, being that is a slowly building and cavernous closing track as were Release and Indifference.

Pearl Jam sounds much like a smooth progression from Riot Act to me, not some wholesale style change as the term “return to form” can imply. However, the band as a whole do sound like they really enjoyed themselves on this album, and that scores points with me. This might be the reason mainstream critics have a rekindled interest in the band. Perhaps this time around, older and much wiser, Pearl Jam will welcome the spotlight instead of shying away from it.
Killing Songs :
World Wide Suicide, Severed Hand, Come Back
Adam quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Pearl Jam that we have reviewed:
Pearl Jam - Backspacer reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Pearl Jam - Live On Two Legs reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Pearl Jam - Yield reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Pearl Jam - Vitalogy reviewed by Adam and quoted 89 / 100
Pearl Jam - Vs reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:39 am
View and Post comments