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Thursday, September 24, 2009


320 KBPS

Pearl Jam made peace with their hard rock past on their eponymous eighth album, but its 2009 sequel, Backspacer, is where the group really gets back to basics, bringing in old cohort Brendan O'Brien to produce for the first time since 1996's Yield. To a certain extent, the band has reached the point in its career where every move, every cranked amp, every short tough song is heralded as a return to form — call it the Stones syndrome — and so it is with Backspacer, whose meaty riffs have no less vigor than those of Pearl Jam; they're just channeled into a brighter, cheerier package. Despite this lighter spirit, Pearl Jam remain the antithesis of lighthearted good-time rock & roll — they're convinced rock & roll is a calling, not a diversion — but there's a tonal shift from the clenched anger that's marked their music of the new millennium, a transition from the global toward the personal. Ironically, by looking within the music opens up, as the group isn't fighting against the dying light but embracing how this most classicist of alt-rock bands is an anachronism in 2009. Of course, Pearl Jam were an anachronism even back in 1992, worshiping the Who instead of the Stooges, but this odd out-of-phase devotion to the ideals of post-hippie, pre-punk rock is better suited to bandmembers in their forties than in their twenties; fashion has passed them by several times over, leaving Pearl Jam just to be who they are, comfortable in their weathering skin. Pearl Jam battled their success for so long, intent on whittling their audience down to the devout, that it often felt like a chore to keep pace with the band because no matter the merit of the records, they always felt like heavy lifting, but that's no longer the case: here, as on the self-titled 2006 album, it sounds as if they enjoy being in a band, intoxicated by the noise they make. This means, all things considered, Backspacer is a party record for Pearl Jam — a party that might consist of nothing but philosophical debates till the wee hours, but a party nonetheless — and if 18 years is a long, long wait for a band to finally throw a party, it's also true that, prior to Backspacer, Pearl Jam wouldn't or couldn't have made music this unfettered, unapologetically assured, casual, and, yes, fun.

1. Gonna See My Friend
2. Got Some
3. The Fixer
4. Johnny Guitar
5. Just Breathe
6. Amongst The Waves
7. Unthought Known
8. Supersonic
9. Speed Of Sound
10. Force Of Nature
11. The End


Anonymous said...

fun, yes it is


Anonymous said...

d' accord mais mon anglais ne me permet pas de comprendre toutes les nuances et seconds degres de tes commentaires
perso les 4 premiers titres me font penser non pas aux Stooges mais plus aux Ramones (love)
le reste me plait presque tout autant
tout ça pour dire: en gros qu' en as tu pense en francais

:) altos :p

Mr Moodswings said...

Pour faire court, j'adore !
Pour faire un peu plus long, disons que je suis ravi de voir PJ diversifier à nouveau son son. Depuis Yield (mon préféré avec No Code) j'étais un peu en désamour avec le groupe... Pas que leur musique était mauvaise, loin de là, mais je trouvais qu'elle manquait notoirement de fantaisie... Ce n'est pas le cas avec Backspacer qui, pour être un album tout bête et sans grande ambition artistique, n'en est pas moins une superbe et très efficace collection de chansons... Ca me confirme aussi que PJ sont les dignes héritiers de Neil Young (avec lequel ils collaborèrent sur l'impeccable Mirror Ball) tant dans leur éfficacité que dans leur talent à toujours se renouveler en, finalement, ne faisant pas quelque chose de très différent.

Anonymous said...

mille merci