Sound — 6
Thus far, this is the biggest departure from Pearl Jam's sound. While they have experimented over the past decade with everything from punk to spoken word, they have never before done a generic rock album. Some songs retain a more traditional hard rock Pearl Jam sound (Got Some, The Fixer) while some draw on outside works such as Eddie's work on Into the Wild (Just Breathe). However songs such as Gonna See My Friend, Johnny Guitar, and Supersonic seem bland in comparison to the rest of the album and the rest of Pearl Jam's discography.
Lyrics — 7
Backspacer hit or miss when it comes to its lyrical work. The stand out song on the album is definitely The Fixer which details Eddie's maturation when it comes to relationships; a song more of acceptance than rebellion or heartache. However songs like Gonna See My Friend come off as repetitive while the track Johnny Guitar is just another rock song about a guy who wants to be a musician and/or loves rock music. Eddie's vocal work on this album is similar to his toned down work on Into the Wild, but on many of the songs, the vocals sound compressed or restrained such as on The Fixer and Got Some, songs that were otherwise decent sans the mismatched vocal work.
Overall Impression — 7
With all the great work Pearl Jam has done, this album pales in comparison to hiterto albums. There are several standout tracks that make this album worth buying, but the bland, more generic rock songs weigh it down and tend to feel like filler songs. Even though this album may not be their greatest, many songs still hint at previous records while others bring in new influences which I look forward to seeing in future Pearl Jam work. On a side note, some albums come with the ability to download two entire concerts without additional charge which will be a bonus to collectors of Pearl Jam's great live recordings.