My second favourite Pearl Jam! This one features the classic as FUCK abusive relationship tale “Better Man”, the great defiant lyricsy of “Not For You,” the joyous nostalgia of “Spin the Black Circle”, the slap-bass-o-rama “Aye Davanita”, the harmonica-and-vocals “Bugs”, the minute-long whining of “Pry, to”, the – wait, what the actual fuck?
Yes, on this album Pearl Jam decided fuck you, that’s what. And it’s pretty great! When they stopped trying to write successful music they actually made some oddly great shit. Sure, there’s some rawk going on, but it’s so uncommon – maybe ten minutes of the album – and so pointed – a pro-abortion song, a song dedicated to loving records, a couple others – that when it comes around you actually appreciate it. Sure, there are a few weak links – namely the AOR mluhb of “Immortality” and “Nothingman”, but it’s all pretty okay.
The real zuh of the album is all the experimental tracks. Only “Bugs” actually works as a song, but it’s all SO weird that you’d be a filthy Gypsy not to grudgingly love it. Except for the awful, eight-minute long closer “hey foxymophandlemama, that’s me”, because seriously, what the fuck is that title and it’s EIGHT MINUTES of terrible scraping noises and little kids creepily mumbling about spanking and cleaning. Doesn’t that title just say it all???? So that’s fuckin dumb. But I rather love them for doing the rest of it – they honestly didn’t care about being loved anymore, and only three albums in! That’s like a dog running away at age two! And getting all awesome and shit!
Look, I like my rock songs sometimes too, and this album’s got ’em, with a social conscience and everything. “Corduroy” is great. “Better Man” is great. Only “Tremor Christ” doesn’t work. But I love this album because Pearl Jam really shows some sack here. And I knows they’d hate my describing it that way, because I don’t mean to sound like a jock or whichevs, but damn, this is a weird, weird record. Forgot the first song and the last three and you’ve still got ten songs in a row (counting that weird “P-R-I-V-A-C-Y” one) that work like a mofo who is working. Look, Pinterest is a website for people (mostly women) to parade DIY projects normal people will never realize and that’s OKAY. Plus the liner notes are bloody great – this album started the brief pattern of PJ albums that didn’t fit neatly into my shelf, but this is one CD worth buying – and that’s including how badly PJ wanted it to be a record!
The dudes never sounded simultaneously more rebellious, more social conscience-y, and more angrily sorrowful, and that’s a good thing, failed experiments included. This album is like a twenty two year-old: smart enough to realize its promise but young enough not to shy away from its idiosyncrasies. I don’t know what the heck was with that analogy. I give it a two!