Sound — 10
The album's sound is incredible. About half the songs are real rockers with great and catchy riffs, while others are slow, deep and very meaningful. The solos on "Alive" and "Porch" are amongst the best of the era. The vocals are very strong and powerful while the bass and drums also perform well. Every song intrigues the listener, not only with its complex structure but its clever licks and riffs as well.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are mostly very good. They describe things that are personal to the band (Abandonment in "Alive", Love in "Black", "Oceans", "Porch" and "Garden" and paternal issues in "Release") as well things which effect society (Homelessness in "Even Flow", Psychiatric Hospitals in "Why Go" and suicide in "Jeremy"). All the lyrics complement the music very well. The one criticism I would have is that in the Choruses of "Alive", "Why Go" and "Jeremy" the same line is sung over and over. However still fantastic lyrics!
Overall Impression — 10
This album is without a doubt Pearl Jam's strongest. Not only this but I would say that this is the best album of their era, better than "Appetite For Destruction", "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" and even "Nevermind". The songs for me which really stand out are "Even Flow", "Alive", "Jeremy" and "Porch". The album is very majestic. The songs are very powerful and will show you something you have never seen before, not even from Pearl Jam. I would not say that I dislike anything from the album, if I were to be very picky I would say that the mixing could be better, but it is still good enough. If my all of my CDs went missing, this would be the first one I would replace. I would also consider buying the 2009 re-issue becuase of the bonus tracks, however this is considerably more expensive (In Slovakia at least). To conclude I think that if you are new to Pearl Jam, this should be the first album of theirs that you buy and it is a must for any PJ fan. By far their best album...