The new Pearl Jam disc is out. It has been out for a week, but I needed at least that long to digest it. There was too much hype about this record for me to zip through it. Everyone called it 'a return to form', 'the band's best record since Ten' yadda yadda yadda. I can't stand that talk for a couple of reasons.
First off, I have been a life long fan of Pearl Jam. The first time I saw them I didn't even know who they were. They were just the opening band for Nirvana & the Chili Peppers. So, I go back as a fan to almost day one. The other problem is that every band who spends a few years between records always gets overhyped.
So, I put the disc in my CD player and never took it out. I have driven about 300 miles with just that CD in, and am ready to release my verdict. The new CD really is that good. I put it on a tier with Yield, and Ten... and nothing else.
The band better then they have been. How so? They are better at everything - better at singing, songwriting, producing, and playing their instruments. Also, Boom Gaspar is back on keys which is terrific. It not only rounds out their too heavy on guitar sound... but keeps Mike McCready from filling every second in with a solo. That reminds me of a great line from Eddie I heard on some bootleg: "in the 1970's a guitar weapon was created by the United States, his name is Mike McCready".
If you have lucked out and caught the band on SNL or Letterman recently, you know they are on fire. They even look better than they have in a while. The first few tunes are of course fast rockers including the #1 rock radio hit 'Worldwide Suicide". Where the band really gets its songwriting legs is on the softer tunes. I can not wait to here 'Marker in the Sand' in a sold out stadium with every single person singing along. If you have been to a PJ show, it will be like Betterman but better, man.
There are a couple of fillers too, like Big Wave. The band always tries too hard to remind everyone they are still of the punk rock ethos. Problem is, they are old and successful. Neither are punk rock.
Another simple little ditty is 'Parachutes'. It perfectly reminds me of classic Pink Floyd... the stuff that wasn't psychedelic (they made a few other discs besides Dark Side). It reminds me of Animals & Obscured by Clouds era Floyd. 'Life Wasted reprise' perfectly frames the disc and gently reminds the listener that passion is still good and still relevant.
I won't go through every song here, because there is no need. If you have the disc, you dig it. If you don't... go buy it. I promise it is $13 well spent.