Sound — 7
This album immediately jumped up to the #3 spot of their first six records I own. It's only behind Ten and Vs. (current fav) and might have a chance to go higher. That being said, most people seem to need some time with this album to fully appreciate. I'll tell you how I came about to enjoying it right away. To start, the opening song blared out of my speakers in my car as the bass shook the mirrors. That doesn't happen too often in my car but it was a rather explosive way to start the album. The song itself didn't stick with me until a few more listens but it's one of the better songs and opening songs in PJ's catalogue. The next two songs, God's Dice and Evacuation, are nothing too special and are just all around quality songs. The album really started for me with Light Years. Not only does it perfectly capture the feeling of the artwork PJ have become known for(heavy astronomy theme with explanations to the pictures in the back of the booklet) but it's the best song on the album. It's a slower song that as far as I can tell is about a woman close to the band that died. The chorus quickly got me moving and one of the best lines Ed has ever written is here as "We were but stones, your light made us stars". After that song blew me away I was hit by another strong song called Nothing As It Seems. The guitar riffs and short solos are breathtaking and really make this song work along with Eddie's haunting vocals. 'Thin Air' ups the tempo a little bit and is yet another strong song. At this point I've heard three very strong songs follow three average to good openers. I hoped it wouldn't end there and I was rewarded with Insignificance. The chorus is very memorable and Ed has a few of his signiature wails and such throughout. The next song, Of A Girl, is probably the song that gets me moving the most. The beat is just amazing to go along with some great lyrics and vocals. I really can't do this song justice with words, you need to hear it. Though this album has some political threads it's far from overbearing. As a Republican for the most part I'm never offended throughout this album. I chalk that up to strong, open lyrics that don't try to bash me over the head. This is where Grievance comes in. Despite the message I must say this song has really grown on me to be one of my favorites. It's more of the bridge at the end of the song that gets me. 'Rival' has an interesting beginning of what sounds like 2 dogs fighting or one just growling. It kind of surprised me at first but the song that follows is good enough to make me forget it. Sleight of Hand is a hit or miss song with people. For those that don't know, the album is called Binaural because of the way it was recorded. It was meant to listen to with headphones and if you don't have two working speakers or ear pieces you're only going to get half of the songs. Sleight of Hand is really the perfect song to demonstrate this and I can't describe it other than 'haunting'. Soon Forget is a vintage quarky PJ song that isn't too long. You might very well soon forget it but it's not bad. Parting Ways is a solid closer though far from their best way to wrap up an album.
Lyrics — 8
After the first 4 songs or so I found myself surprisingly unenthused. What the heck? These songs suck! I said to myself as I ate nachos on my couch. However things picked up as it went on, and by the end I was pleased with it. I've since listened to it many a time and have chenged my tune about some of the tunes. Eddie Vedder is an excellent force in alternative music and it really shows on this album.
Overall Impression — 8
All in all, this album to me was much heavier and had a greater variety of great songs than any of their previous three albums (which are all great in themselves). If you find yourself having a hard time getting into this just give it more listens. It's defintely one of their most underrated albums and needs to be any every PJ fans collection. As always if you're new to Pearl Jam start with Ten and work your way up.