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Pearl Jam - Backspacer

2009-10-26 12:08
 
Pearl Jam - Backspacer
 

Watch
Backspacer Interview Pt. 1 video
Backspacer Interview Pt. 2: "Just Breathe" video
Backspacer Interview Pt. 3: "The Fixer" video

"The Fixer" has people twittering that its uplifting, catchy charms make it the standout, but spare a thought for the excellent "Johnny Guitar". Young dreamer covets the proverbial neighbour’s wife, mourns her taste in men... who hasn’t been there before? History may be written by the victors, but the heartbreak single is always, always the loser’s idea.

It's after this kickass quartet that things get complicated. Or rather: adult contemporary.

"Just Breathe" is a Hallmark card. A weepy, precious ballad that tries to peel back the emotional layers with strings instead of substance. Similarly, "The End" feels like an overly obvious retread of a tired topic: suicide.

The signature Vedder vox goes to more interesting spaces with "Amongst The Waves", a song of survival. Its driving, melodic chorus teeters on the edge of inspirational rock, but gets away with it completely because Vedder, a surfer, really does sound happy to be singing in oceanic metaphor, to be singing at all after all this time.

It's not that the second half of Backspacer is "bad", but it does feel different. Listen again to the first few songs and youthful energy is thick in the air. The second bit, conversely, feels all grown up, like an old relative poking their head into a doorway, declaring "I'm back!".

Pearl Jam’s legions of fans follow them for different reasons, but for me, it’s the anarchic, individualistic spirit of grunge that makes them great, whatever music they’re playing. You’ll find it in some of Backspacer, but not all of it.


The opening salvos of Backspacer are blindingly good. The first four songs are rock songs, songs with a motor, which remind us that Eddie Vedder is one of the most magnetic voices in the post-Cold War world.

What to read next: Kalahari

Jeremy 2009/10/27 1:45 PM
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1'st post -seriously? Where are you, 'legions of fans?!' Great album from a great band! Better than their last 1 which is sure saying something 'cos I thought that was an already excellent return to form... \m/
Betterman 2009/10/27 4:00 PM
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This is a fantastic album, worth the wait!!
H 2009/11/06 12:31 PM
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Beenwaiting for this a very long time! Worth the wait!!
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