Sound — 10
Three years have passed and finally it's time for a new album from one of the greatest bands on the planet: Pearl Jam. And I give them that title because, once again, they have have treated their fans to a fantastic collection of songs. Backspacer's sound, however, can hardly be compared to any of the band's earlier works. That being said it still captures the unique energy that only Pearl Jam can bring to the table. The album clocks in at just 37 minutes making it the shortest studio release from the band yet. It is also one of the best. It encompasses a great range of musical genres and influences from the Stooges style opener "Gonna See My Friend" to the folk sound of "Just Breathe" to the manic grunge energy of "Supersonic". It is this variety that gives Backspacer it's own niche in the Pearl Jam collection. Kudos must go to Brendan O'Brien, returning to produce a Pear Jam album for the first time since 1998's Yield. That album, along with Vs, Backspacer and the recent remix of the band's debut Ten, must surely make him the man perfectly suited to the job of getting the most beautiful and energetic sound from these men. Sound-wise, this album is flawless with a fantastic balance between all instruments whether is be drums, electric guitar or horns. Excellent!
Lyrics — 9
Backspacer marks the first time since Vs that Eddie Vedder is credited for all lyrics in a Pearl Jam album. While Vedder has certainly written better than what is on show here, what is noticeable is the positive vibe coming from his words. Perhaps now that George W. has vacated the White House, Eddie feeels he can concentrate more on writing about things like surfing and falling in love with women on album covers. After the recurring themes of political frustration coming from Riot Act and Pearl Jam, this is certainly a welcome and refreshing change. While he still writes of pain in songs like "Speed Of Sound" and "Force Of Nature", Vedder cannot but help emit a level of optimism at the same time. As always, Vedder's delivery and performance are top notch. You will always come across people who criticize his voice but pay no heed to these fools. There is no doubt that he has one of the most pure and unique voices in modern music today.
Overall Impression — 9
It takes a special kind of band to be able to change their sound after so many years but Pearl Jam are a special kind of band. I do not expect those who have slated the band for every release since Ten to feel any different about Backspacer but I recommend this album whole-heartedly to the real Pearl Jam fans and to anyone else who maybe is wondering whether to try out listening to the band for the first time. This is a mighty group of tunes, personal favourites being "Gonna See My Friend", "Johnny Guitar" and "Just Breathe", just to name a few. But don't take my word for it! Go buy it yourself! Listen and enjoy because in a world where the musical mainstream isn't in the best shape at least you can take solace in the fact that there is still a band like this coming up with the goods! I'm already looking forward to their next release! See you in three years time!