Hey, it’s the third straight album with an identical digipak! Creative minds at work!
But whatever, Pearl Jam is here to create rock music, not rad packages. A year or so ago, girlfriend and I went to a small bar in a small strip mall at the very East end of a generous definition of the downtown area. From the shabby exterior we were expecting a bunch of unfriendly old men watching soccer and spitting. And cheap beer. We got the cheap beer, but instead of mean-spirited, leering old immigrant men we met a handful of the nicest, most talented immigrants we’d ever met in one place. Far from a place for old creepers, there were even a bunch of teenaged girls hanging out illegally, hanging out in the same bar as their parents, and a diverse group of people who knew each other through the bar and drinking and laughing together. Then the band, composed entirely of whoever was in the bar, started to play an improvised set of covers and jams. Far from an awkward bunch of Oasis songs or failed attempts to sound young, these old guys motherfucked the scene. They made everything sound good – and we’d only had a handful of beers. They picked on us and made us sing songs, and damned if they didn’t make even us sound pretty good up on that stage. It was a shocking and lovely experience, and a good reminder what good people can do to a shabby bar.
The bar’s closed now, but fuck my tits if playing this album didn’t immediately remind me of being in that bar, despite an entirely different aesthetic. Somehow Eddie and the Vedders got it between last album and this one. It’s by no means continent drifting, but gosh is this ever is a nice little album to listen to. It’s like being in that bar again, only instead there’s a bar band playing originals, and you expect it to be a bunch of failures reliving their glory days, but instead after three beers and six songs you find yourself looking at your friends and grinning while nodding along to the songs. And that’s a better way to look at this album: it’s like an awesome, unexpected bar band. If this was a bunch of kids then 27 year-olds would be falling over their feet to pretend it drifts the aforementioned continents.
While I’m at it, let me run down a few complaints about the “new generation” from Reddit’s “Redditors over 30 – what’s something about the younger generation you just don’t understand?” thread. Bear in mind that I am LALITHA. I am not seventeen, and much as I like hearing what teenagers have to say.
Q: “Everything is creepy now and everyone is a creeper. So much paranoia. Why must all strangers be deemed dangerous? A kid used to be able to play out on the street by themselves all day and then go home when they heard their mom calling out their name for dinner.”
A: What are you, fucking seventy? This is the top response and it’s fucking retarded. This is a complaint for the 80s. Maybe kids don’t go out and play because you moved to the suburbs and their friends’ houses are too far away from theirs. Everyone is a creeper? That’s a term reserved for Facebook stalkers or combovers hitting on 20 year-olds. Do not pass Go. Go back to your job.
Q: I hope you don’t really think of yourself as “the Bieber generation”.
A: Nobody does. Pop stars are the norm, Nirvana is not. Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys. New Kids on the Block. Michael Jackson. I think we’re alone now. Lots and lots of perceptive, wonderful young people are not the fuck buying Justin Bieber, he’s just a handy shortform for someone a lot of people ARE buying. You really think listening to Nirvana made you special? Vanilla Ice was only a year earlier, and that sold more than any Nirvana album when it came out.
Q: Why do you keep looking at your phones?
A: Because they have friends? Friends text each other. When you’re a teenager the gossip is endless. If I could’ve gossiped all the time I would have. It’s fun. You’re either bitter or jealous if you see this as a problem. I don’t even see it as a problem and I’m bitter that I don’t have constant texting to do. But when I have a texty day I feel pretty happy. Oh, being Lalitha! But anyway. Ugh.
Q: Fascination with reality TV and being famous.
A: Aw, c’mon, reality TV is just a more advanced form of easily accessible entertainment. Empty yes, but Seinfeld was the Beatles of comedy: never to be seen before or after. I’d take Jersey Shore over Urkel any day. As for fame…eh, better than chasing lotteries, which is what I hear from co-workers all the time.
Q: I don’t understand why youngsters think “trying really hard” earns you an A. Top marks are awarded for mastering the material.
A: Because their parents taught them as much. This is actually a good complaint, but the fault lies with those who taught their kids that everyone is a special snowflake. I know I heard that over and over when I was younger from Barney. The young didn’t create the self-esteem industry, boomers did. Blame them. Also, trying really hard is a better habit to learn than getting As is.
Q: Twilight, tight jeans, the lack of demand for decent saturday morning cartoons.
A: Twilight is just a teen fiction fad, but fine. Tight jeans? Those have been in demand ever since showing off your ass got you laid. Cartoons? They’re not exactly a pivotal part of childhood. Let ’em eat a good video game instead.
Q: Im only 28 but I was still part of the generation that didnt even have cell phones until high school. I cant understand how readily and willingly kids give out every detail of their lives online. Twitter, Facebook, or whatever else they just want people to know what they are doing at all time.
A: They’re doing it for their friends to know what they’re doing, not strange people who dislike apostrophes. Teenhood involves a struggle for popularity – letting people know what cool things you’re doing is a way to show everyone how awesome you are and how everyone should be your friend. Privacy, as a concept, isn’t something most people need to consider deeply until they’re applying for jobs or whatnot. Shortsighted? Maybe, but you’re have a hard time communicating that to people whose frontal lobes aren’t yet fully developed.
Okay, album’s over. But look, kids: the idea of generation gap is something used to easily dismiss one’s own lack of motivation to grow. You rarely hear David Cross complaining about not understanding teenagers. Every generation has its stupidities, but they come from the same places. Teenagers gotta teen, corporations gotta corporate. Different looks and different technologies, but the same boys and girls you’ve always known. If you don’t get people now then you never got them. On the plus side, everyone likes pizza.
No silly hidden track this time to ruin a good last song! Pearl Jam, how you’ve grown!