Pearl Jam – Vs.

Well that’s a nice album title. Seriously, around this time PJ were ticked off at the establishment, but hey, keep thwacking at the guitar even if not on it.

Seriously, I’m not nearly drunk enough to get all deep or place in a greater context here. This is PJ’s second and last album of being big rock stars, and while I condemn them for giving up the godliness and focusing on transgression, it couldn’t come fast enough to fully save this album. There are quite a few gems here, even thematically, most notably songs of sympathy for an abused young woman and (no better way to say it) an elderly woman behind the counter in a small town, but there’s also great bellowing about vague commands to “drop the leash” and “it’s my blooooooood!” But at least the caterwauling is gone, gone I tell you. Even the boring songs are about police preference for white guys – and this coming out of white guys! – or comparing humans to rats. Can you tell that these pearly, jammy fellows are my sort of fellows? It’s their second damned album. Sure, there’s a song about Kurt Cobain (I feel like the heartfelt sentiment would never be returned by ol’ apathetic Kurt), but just afuckingbout everything here, save the last song – the plodding, navel-gazing “Indifference” – is far, far away from the crap that Pearl Jam unfairly inspired.

There is, in most of these songs, a deep distrust and dislike of modern North American society, and while things would get a little too crying Indian later on, you’re a silly if you don’t admire the shit out of what they’re trying to do, and on their second album no less. They could have gone Zeppelin and used their ability with riffs to write about passion, or all Pumpkins and follow the first album’s worse songs to sing about teen love and angst, but nope, they went straight to undergrad-level dissatisfaction. These are rock stars here, let’s not expect PHD-level discourse in twelve lines.

But it’s all tempered by the amount of “rockin'” that goes on. The funk in “Blood” is awful, even if it gives Eddie an excuse to scream in his inimitable bellow. Nee-ner-na-nee-ner-na is very silly. The constant soloing in “Dissident” is impressive but not particularly good. And things are too godfucking midtempo all the damned time. What is it about early 90s rock that has to plod along all the fucking time?

The songs that stand the test of time here – and there are a respectable amount of them – are the indie-soundin’ “Rearviewmirror” and the aforementioned ladysongs. The rest is a mash of what we’d now call alt-rock and a bit of bellowing and one slow blah. Okay, except for the experimental “Rats,” that tries to be interesting but actually sounds like a bunch of cynical high school fucks jamming on misanthropy. But overall, this is a band very, very quickly getting away from their rockhole into the Arctic of showing their Nirvana without killing themselves. Respect, but let’s not get too Gaga about this admittedly quite above-average album. Also, the last minute of “Daughter” annoys me. If you don’t know how to end your song, don’t just jam around for a minute ineffectually. I know, I know, you’re trying to be anti-commercial. Wasn’t the message of the song neat-o enough? Shutup, Stone, I was talking to Eddie!

…Hug? I’m sorry, I know that was rude. Okay, but it was just a joke. It wasn’t like I seriously wanted you to never speak again or anything. Fine, fine, leave. Fine, take your bandmates with you. I don’t need this crap attitude to something that 99% of people would take as a damned joke. Don’t talk to me in that tone, it’s disrespectful, and I seem to recall giving your earlier albums very good re- fuck you! Oh, you don’t like when I say that? Am I allowed to express any dissatisfaction? Am I supposed to be some logical robot now? Because I’m not one, because I actually give a shit. I know you’re sorry. I’m sorry too. Let’s fuck.



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