Grunge vets alternate between vital and listless
Babies born the year Pearl Jam formed are hopefully enjoying their first month of college as this review hits newsstands. And yet these rock ‘n’ roll veterans—who have logged countless tour dates, battled Ticketmaster in court and are now on their ninth proper LP—keep chugging along. Most of their new album’s first half alternates between gritty guitar-led jams and able pop-rock, and in these moments, Backspacer truly succeeds. But too much of the record’s second half leans toward the introspective tunes frontman Eddie Vedder executed perfectly on the Into the Wild soundtrack. But outside of a filmic context and stamped with the name Pearl Jam, several of the songs fall flat, dragging down an otherwise upbeat and enjoyable release.
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