Friday, September 25, 2009

Pearl Jam- Backspacer

Making this available to independent stores was a really good first step in my loving this album, but ultimately it is strictly for artistic reasons that I recommend it. After a long period of casting about with a torrent of live releases and best of's, the band refocused a couple of years ago when Eddie Vedder seemed to have a songwriting epihany on the soundtrack to Into The Wild. This success was followed by their most overtly political and musically satisfying album in years, Pearl Jam and now the band drops what could be their best album ever, Backspacer. Brendan O’Brien again proves to be the perfect producer, showing all the band’s muscular strengths in full bloom - the guitarists have never sounded better or more in control of their sound - and rhythm section of Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron (talk about having some serious shoes to fill and exceeding everyone's expectations) sound world class. In fact the entire album reminds me of hearing a Who album from the 70's for the first time, you just want to soak it up over and over. Every song is strong, but I'll pick out a few highlights: "Johnny Guitar" has a great hook and it encompasses all of Eddie’s best vocal tricks. It is followed by one of his best and most tender ballads, "Just Breathe", which extols the virtue of holding those you love close by and recognizing what you have in them. It is in the category of the stuff he did for Into The Wild. "Unthought Known" is classic Pearl Jam, creating a slow boil that showcases the band's control and Eddie's rough-hewn vocals. Amazingly, he has developed an even more expressive and character-filled voice than he had in the early days. "Supersonic" sounds like an obvious single with a mid-song backward guitar breakdown and a propulsive groove that screams hit. There are two more great ballads on the album, "Speed of Sound" which has Vedder reflecting on his own career and success and takes the audience successfully into his mind to answer that burning question "what would it be like to be Eddie Vedder?" and the album closer “The End” again sees the singer in a reflective mood, exposing his insecurities. That, after all, has always been Pearl Jam’s greatest strength; like their heroes Neil Young or Pete Townshend they put up a good front as the heroic rock star, but we keep coming back to them because we can also see that they are flawed, needy humans just like us.
Paul Epstein

1 comment:

gi. said...

I just found this site that is posting live videos from all of Pearl Jam's shows this tour! You've got to check it out!

Enjoy :)