Sound — 10
Many "hardcore" Pearl Jam fans (and I count my self as being pretty hardcore) often claim that they dislike Ten for being over-produced and often plump for No Code or Yield when asked their vote for best album. While these albums are fantastic, they do not represent that fantastic moment in time when the stars are aligned, the band are seperate parts of one whole and they create a masterpiece. Ten is such an album. The songs are untouchable, the lyrics touching and angry, Eddie Vedder's cathartic songwriting making them more than just another grunge band. I personally love the sound of Ten, great guitar playing, awesome solos, Eddie's trademark howls. Truly inspiring stuff.
Lyrics — 10
Anyone who truly listens to Ten or indeed any Pearl Jam album will know that they are a band, not just back-up for Eddie Vedder. However, it has to be said that Ten was Vedder's album. From start to finish it recounts the story of a troubled man. Such brutal honesty in the lyrics may strike some as self-obsessed but to my ears it sounds like a man trying to find a solution or answer to his problems by examining them through song. And besides, if a song with as dark subject content as Alive can still be an outrageously upbeat and life-affirming track with one of the greatest choruses over written then there is nothing wrong with a little angst. Vedder makes songs like the introspective Black, the nothing-short-of-beautiful Oceans and stunningly honest and touching Release uplifting as opposed to depressing due to the sheer beauty of the songs. Listen to the last chorus of release as Vedder finally bursts into "Release me, release me" after 4 minutes of building tension and you'll see what I mean.
Overall Impression — 10
Well, put simply, Ten is, along with Dirt by Alice in Chains, my favourite album in the world. I have yet to hear an album that spoke to me in such a way. It makes someone relate to it, even if they have not experienced the same things as Vedder. Anyone who has ever felt angry, trapped or lost will find solace in this album. It is truly one of the few albums ever to hit the big-time (selling more than Nirvana's Nevermind) that is a truly moving piece of art as opposed to a shameless corporate cash-cow. If I lost this I would buy it instantly. Even though it is carefully secured on my iPod, I don't think I could sleep soundly without it occupying its place in my CD collection.