I’ve been playing Breath of Fire tonight…I was playing a hacked version of Final Fantasy IV with edited dialogue so it wouldn’t be so cheeseball, and it was pretty great! Except that it only played up to the Cave of Mist, then crashed. The Cave of Mist is the first dungeon in the game! Imagine my sadness on learning that it was only completed up to that, and the website says to expect updates, but that was back in 2005. Sadly, I don’t think the rest of the game will be uncheeseballed. Sigh. Playing even a little of FFIV one realizes just how far ahead of its compatriots it was, and why Square got the reputation of putting out the best games available. Aside from Chrono Trigger, the FF games were by a huge leap the best RPGs for the SNES.
Of course, it’s fucking pathetic that I’m playing 15 year old games right now. But I don’t have better technology! I’m old! What would you have me do, review equally old albums? That’s cheesy. I am a laff.
Let’s get through this one. This is a tale of two halves. There’s some neat-o packaging again – polaroids everywhere! Poor Eddie, he really loved old technology. And it moved on, inexorably. There’s five great songs here, and they’ll all in a row, tracks 2-6. The weird chord changes of the rocky “Hail, Hail” and the somehow successful hippie singalong of “Who You Are” and the bass-led burner “In My Tree” and the lovely “Smile” and the pensive “Off He Goes.” Not that they don’t all have their problems – the first starts awkwardly, the second has a painass coda, the third is more than a bit too encouraging of solipsism, the fourth only goes through its lovely chorus (“I miss you already! I miss you all day!”) once, the fifth makes me sleepy. But then the rest of the album, and it’s all pretty bleh. Forced rocking and forced thought and forced pretension.
But I do hand it to the Pearly Jammies, they try hard to confound expectations. I commend them even as I erase the songs and restock the ol’ CD. Listening to this you do see the old era fading with the band, and the band adapting best they can. I mean, 1996 – what the fuck was happening musically in 1996? I was eleven, so right there whatever, but the guys are moving, slowly, into a time where the old rules don’t apply, and they’re aging with their fanbase. I guess the problem is that music for people turning 30 is necessarily lamer than music for people in their early 20s. “Do you see the way that tree bends? Does it inspire?” Well, maybe, but maybe the rest of us are going to work and pulling a lever 800 times because that’s work dagumnit and that’s what paying rent is, much less caring for a family. Maybe musicians had it all wrong; maybe music should have been for homemakers all along, but Lawrence Welk always sucked and glaringly, but but but it’s tough to get older with music. Young tragic losers become old fuckups with bald spots and pot bellies and crow’s feet. Not many gravel roads to walk down when you’re caring for a child and working at Wendy’s. And that’s why kids these days needed something different and Pearl Jam are dad’s band. Now get off my lawn, you little shitbags.
Also, “Around the Bend” is a nice, country-like endsong. It’s easy to see why PJ survived when so many 90s band sputtered and imploded.