Sound — 8
After masterpieces like Ten, Vs. and No Code it seems that Pearl Jam have moved from the raw, deadly sound that made them so popular. A popularity that brought their debut album Ten to number 1 in the U.S. While Binaural's sound is still effective and entralling to listen to it no longer takes your breath away. No longer does Eddie Vedder's voice send shivers down you spine. No longer do songs blast you off your feet with outros like Ten's "Alive" or Vs.'s "Go". The inclusion of Matt Cameron as drummer is undoubtably a good one as he pounds so unmerciably. But still this album's sound leaves you wanting a little more. Songs like "Grievance" and "Insignificance" will keep the rockers happy and the mellower of listeners will love "Nothing as it Seems" and "Light Years". Overall a different Pearl Jam sound that capitivates but leaves you longing for the old to be honest.
Lyrics — 9
As ever Eddie Vedder blows me away with his lyrics but it is important to note that guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament put in their fair share in the lyric department with "Thin Air" being contributed by the former and "Nothing As It Seems" by the latter. Collectively the lyrics do everything the sound doesn't. Fully entralls and captivates and not leaving you dissapointed. As ever Eddie delivers them brilliantly. He has perhaps slipped into more of comfort zone here as he did in 1998's "Yield". No more does he yell himself hoarse like in "Rearviewmirror". The closest he comes to doing so is in "Grievance". All the same you can't fault him. He is one of the better vocalists of the current day. The note he hits to the end of the opening track "Breakerfall" makes the song for me. It uplifts. Overall the lyrics focus on love but more broken love. A heatfelt album.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm going to give a track-by-track commentary here. 01. Breakerfall - a good opener. It is a rock song to get things rolling. As I mentioned earlier, the note Vedder hits towards the end is amazing. It earns the song an extra mark. It is a song to get the juices flowing. 02. Gods' Dice - this is an Ament song. Not the most memorable song. It is a song that you must listen to a few times to get into. A decent song but nothing special. 03. Evacuation - I must confess. I've never been a fan of fade-offs. A technique that put me off "Yield". However, this song still does grab me. The music was written by newcomer Cameron. 04. Light Years - the first song on the album that can be considered a Pearl Jam classic. It is a moving song. "We were but stones, your light made us stars". A great line for me. A Vedder song. One of my favorites. 05. A great song to follow Light Years and probably outstrips it for me. This is an Ament song. The lyrics move me and this is in my all-time Pearl Jam favourites. 06. Thin Air - a Gossard song. I like the refrain i.e. "I know she's reached my heart in thin air" but the verse has never taken me. I listen to it for the chorus but apart from that I find it a weak song. I do have a feeling, however, that other Pearl Jam fans are going to disagree. 07. Insignificance - one of my favourites on the album. Another Vedder song. I love this song. I love the verse, the chorus, the lyrics. Fair play guys for this song. 08. Of The Girl - I don't have anything against Mr.Stone Gossard but I find this song of his also weak. It bores me andnever takes off. Again fans are going to disagree with me but I find my concentration leaving me everytime I listen to it. 09. Grievance - my concentration quickly returned with this scorcher. Again I take my hat off to Eddie Vedder for this song. "Pledge my grievance to the flag". Great lyrics. Great song. I love the outro in this song as well. As previously mentioned the song that Eddie comes closer to his former self. 10. Rival - again not one of the band's best works. Again from Gossard. This one is better than Of the Girl so he raises himself a bit. Still I find myself waiting for the next song. Never a good sign. 11. Sleight Of Hand - this is an Ament tune and Vedder lyrics. An interesting song. I like the lyrics and, while it took me a few listens, I also like the tune. Good song. 12. Soon Forget - this song for me is the highlight of the album. A Vedder masterpiece. Eddie picks up the ukalele for this track. The story of the man with all the money but no happiness is captivating. "He's barely living a day he's soon forget". Great lyrics. Grat song. My favourite along with Insignificance and Grievance. Short but sweet. 13. Parting Ways - a good song to end the album. Perhaps ironic as the band and fans part ways again after another album. A Vedder song. He writes about a couple who know their relationship is fading but they keep on smiling. A sad song. Overall the album satisfys the musical appetite but leaves you wanting dessert. The guitars of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard are, as always, effective. As a whole the band works in a strong a unit as ever but is lacking that energy they had. I would still probably buy it gain if I lost the cd, my ipod got smashed and my computer crashed and lost all it's contents. Hopefully I won't be that unlucky. I would recommend this album if you already have Ten, Vs., No Code and Vitalogy but if you don't I'd say to get those first. A good album but just lacking spice.