Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pearl Jam - Backspacer (2009)

For those who know me, this statement will undoubtedly rip your flesh like weasels who had too much Buddy Holly and vodka. The last time Pearl Jam released a semi-decent album, I was a freshman in high school. (It was Vitalogy for those who don't know my age.) So I say with my rancorous cod-piece lodged squarely between my zoobies that I fully and eagerly intended on writing a Two Minutes Hate for this album and sadly cannot sate my inner Freudian wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's pretty good -- really. Part of my disdain for Pearl Jam for the last half portion of my life has been with their politics -- which is to say, their music oozed complete self-righteous seriousness, and the music fucking sucked. Like assfucker sucked. Like no better than Britney Spears sucked. Like you would rather watch Jack Bauer save Los Angeles from its 35th nuclear attack sucked. Read my previous two album reviews if you don't believe me, where the band found itself playing like they read the word torpor so many times on a piece of paper that it put them into one.

This album sounds like they had a ton of fun making it. It doesn't reek of self-seriousness and it doesn't sound tired, either. Amazing, right? I really dig the brevity as well (36 minutes or so). It kind of unfolds pretty quickly and then it's over. (Authorial interjection: Master Cianan, did I just hear you 3,000 miles away yelling, "Well, thank God for that!") I really like "Got Some" and "Supersonic," two fairly punk-like rockers and "Amongst The Waves," a nice sludgy ballad. "Just Breathe" may be my favorite song, and it'd probably surprise you to hear that it's actually just an acoustic love song with some strings -- it just sounds beautiful and I like it. So there. Of course, being the disaffected twaddling twit that I am who must find some fault with everything, I will say this: every Pearl Jam album (except for Ten) has at least one song that is so odious, so terrible, so toxic to the greater good of humanity that the band, the producers, the fans and any other associated party involved with the continued existence and preservation of that song should be violently reprimanded (myself included); and that song is "The Fixer" -- a most retarded example of what kind of music not to make. Otherwise, enjoy. B-


Starrlight said...

I found Perky Vedder on The Fixer to be so disconcerting I nearly drove off the road the first time I heard it. It's like someone stole The Edsters H and replaced it with E.

Glow stick! Glow stick!

Even my kid when she first heard it was taken aback. Her first words "What the that Vedder?!"

Have not heard the rest of the album although my local station played it through in it's entirety last week. Vitololgy really was their last good album. World Wide Suicide just clubbed you over the head with their earnestness didn't it.

Jeff said...

I'm a big fan of shorter albums. I can't stand when a solid album is bogged down because it's too long. Going back to the Volta, if I had one major complaint, it's that their albums are too long. I like my songs long and my albums short.

The Mad Hatter said...


Someone I know who doesn't like Pearl Jam told me they liked "The Fixer" and some other song on the radio. So I went and got the album. Jeeeeeeesus, that song is bad. I don't even think Vitalogy was amazing; each album from Ten to Vs to etc just kept getting worse. After Vitalogy, I threw my hands up. But this album really genuinely shocked me. I'm going to take the hate I intended for it and use it for something else.


I don't mind the length of anything really so long as it's good. That said, the Volta is really on the decline for me. They're getting high off their own bloated self-important windage. Octahedron was a terrible album. Long or short, I'd set their hair on fire if I saw them.

Master Cianan said...

YOU ARE WRONG, SIR. I was not thanking god for the brevity of this album. I give my thanks to the basement cat. Might I suggest you change the link to "Ten" from the amazon page to my review of it?