Moroccan Role: Pearl Jam - <i>Pearl Jam </i> : Don't Believe the Hype - A Reactionary Review

Moroccan Role

A Totally Kiler Music/MP3 Blog.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam : Don't Believe the Hype - A Reactionary Review

Rating: 59/100

Don't get me wrong, I grew up on this shit. Jacob "Cry-Baby Blue" Barnes will attest to this fact. Seriously though, m'man hooked me up with my first PJ tape (courtesy of his big sis Sarah) circa late 1991. That's 6th grade for anyone who's counting. My singular goal in originally picking up the guitar was to perform a half-assed version of the intro to "Alive". In sum, it was that damn tape of Ten that became the first music I identified as "my own".

With that said, it hurts just a bit that I simply cannot recommend the new album and fear I have officially outgrown the band. Take a gander at the Metacritic score...I mean, c'mon. They do have a few future single candidates once "World Wide Suicide" fizzles out; opener "Life Wasted" and "Marker in the Sand" are the most likely suspects. The best stuff here comes off like B-rate rehashes of their back catalog-- see e.g., "Comatose", which was way better when it was called "Spin the Black Circle". While Pearl Jam may be their best work in years, who's been able to sit through an entire Pearl Jam record since Vitalogy? I guess P'fork's David Raposa is the only one who listened to the entire album besides me. Nearly every other review reads like a fucking press release.

While musically pretty solid (esp. Matt Cameron's drumming, which perfectly balances power and technical proficiency), the biggest flaw is Eddie's vocals -- the template for far too many grunge re-tread acts in the mid-to-late 90s (hell, to this day if you count Nickelback etc.) -- which are mixed way too front-and-center and simply do not compliment the music. To boot, they are in full-on wailing mode nearly throughout...blatantly ignoring the restraint which has always marked any decent modern-era PJ cut.

A return to form? Guys, all the PR people in the world cannot dress this turd up to look like anything other than what it is-- a turd. (OK, that's way too harsh...but I like the way it sounds) Basically, a good portion of album lacks memorable melodies and ultimately blends together in a muddy mix of nondescript rockers. What's even worse is that this is the most blatant style-over-substance album of Pearl Jam's career. It's just a little too obvious they are trying to reclaim their past glory; while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, don't beat us over the head with it. This album reminds me of what Billy Corgan tried to do with Zwan...with similar (maybe marginally better) results.

In all reality, if you are a Pearl Jam fan and are feeling nostalgic, by all means give this record a most likely already know what to expect and won't be disappointed. The guys were attempting to achieve a sound that could be slotted in between Vs. and Vitalogy in the Pearl Jam discography timeline. And, if this record came out right after Vs., or even Vitalogy, it would have been absolutely huge. The record is decent, but don't believe the "Strikes with a magnificent urgency"*-type hyperbole you are reading elsewhere.

My biggest problem with this record is based on a change in taste and the fact I'm no longer an angst-ridden awkward adolescent. With this stage went my love for PJ, but for some reason I still can rock out to Siamese Dream. Once a Corganite, always a Corganite I suppose. (For the record, TheFutureEmbrace was pretty much terrible.)

Suggested downloads: "Marker in the Sand", "Unemployable"

Buy the album here.

*=via Prefix Magazine

An Open Letter to Pearl Jam:

Dear Eddie et. alia,

Did Mike McCready relapse and recently run through all of his cash on that pesky blow habit of yesteryear? Why are you guys catering to the mainstream rock radio set to such an extent on this album? You guys made a career with your mercurial brand of "stickittothemaniosis"...why pander to the lowest common denominator at this point of your career? Eddie, we get it-- you surf. Was the painfully generic "Big Wave" really necessary? And Mike, it's due time you retired that damn that wah-wah pedal once and for all.


Moroccan Role.

*oh yeah, you can stream the entire album here.


Blogger Ledbelly said...

i am a huge pearl jam fan, i also just started my own music blog. and i must say, pearl jams new cd rules. i made a special trip to go to a store that i knew would sell it to me a day early and it is simply amazing, i love every song on it. i dont think pearl jam has catored (sp?) to mainstream rock, thats never been what pearl jam has been about. this new cd just proves how much pearl jam does whatever they want to do, they always have, just because they are getting more attention then they have in a while does not mean they have catored to the main stream.

3:40 AM  

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