Monday 28 September 2009

Pearl Jam Rocking In a Happy Place

Without record label Pearl Jam released their ninth album "Backspacer". Much has been written about the Target deal in the US but what about the music? Are people still interested in the ninth album by these middle aged rockers? And more importantly can they deliver anything interesting?

Pearl Jam - Backspacer (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

On their previous self titled album with the avacado the band seemed to have rediscovered themselves. Their songs were rocking harder than ever with a very eager and sometimes angry Vedder singing his lungs out. Even after his beautiful and quiet soundtrack "Into the Wild" they have continued down this road. Only this time the anger is gone. The new album has 11 songs in over just 36 minutes with half of them not even clocking 3 minutes. The result is a compact positive rock album with plenty to enjoy.

The first two songs illustrate this perfectly. Solid uptempo rock songs with Vedder's raspy voice. The band's first single "The Fixer" took me some time to get into but it's a poppy tune which has a nice groove to it. Then they slow down in the middle part of the album. "Just Breathe" is a beautiful ballad that could have come right of the forementioned soundtrack album followed by "Amongs The Waves" and "Unthought Known" in the familiar Pearl Jam style. But then it's time to shift gear again with the rock tune "Supersonic".

Twenty years of rock stardom have the beast of indolence lurking around. Bands like Pearl Jam have reached all there is in the music scene and don't need to make records for a living. Instead they can record anything they like whenever they like at the risk of people calling them yesterday's news. But instead of trying to prove themselves by diving into forced experiments or trying to copy their biggest successes they decided to do what they do best: writing catchy rock songs. And they're damned good at it since besides frontman Vedder they have a badd ass rythm section in drummer Matt Cameron, bass player Jeff Ament and guitar player Stone Gossard. Together with lead guitarist Mike McReady they can be considered a dream team that will make every rock song sound good.

The album closes in style with the accoustic ballad "The End" that ends the album abruptly with the mysterious words "the end/comes near/I'm here/but not much longer". One can only guess what Vedder meant by that but if the band can continue to make albums like this after twenty years let's hope they will stick around.

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