Sound — 9
In what was only Pearl Jam's third year of making music, Eddie Vedder approaches this album's vocal section with the attitude of a rookie at heart coming to understand that his fame has grown far more massive than he himself. Displaying his ability to transition instantaneously from distorted growling to sweet serenading, Vedder's unique vocal style truly sets this album apart from those of Pearl Jam's contemporaries.
"Vs." takes on a different sound than Pearl Jam's previous work, assuming a more straightforward-rock sound than "Ten." Though sounding quite a bit more raw, "Vs." is a step in the right direction for Pearl Jam, conveying a musical sophistication that only improved from that point.
Lyrics — 8
As would prove a pattern in his songwriting, Eddie Vedder's lyrics on Vs. Are very personal, ranging from opinions to past experiences. Notably, on "Glorified G," Vedder mocks the need of some to possess firearms, stating "Got a gun, in fact I got two. That's okay man, 'cause I love God," and even going so far as to state "glorified version of a pellet gun" for the song's main hook. In "Daughter," he takes a dark turn to describe parents wondering why their daughter is unable to learn, unbeknownst to them that she is in fact mentally disabled, and the daughter's subsequent self-hatred. In the more light-hearted, Jeff Ament-penned "Rats," Vedder compares rats to humans, by sarcastically comparing many of our faults to those of rats, and even going so far as to say that quite a few of the things we do are lower than what rats do in the same situation. The iconic "Rearviewmirror" finds Vedder reminiscing about the times he's wanted to escape a particular instance. He states, "It made me feel like I was in a car, leaving something, a bad situation. There's an emotion there. I remembered all the times I wanted to leave..."
"Vs." takes a rather unique approach to sonically pairing lyrics and music. In particular, "Dissident" stands out in that the melody intertwines with the chorus riff. The two feed from each other in nothing short of a perfect complementary way, and then feed into one another as the song progresses.
Overall Impression — 10
Released amidst the grunge explosion, "Vs." can be compared to other artists in that it was a crucial album to the success of the genre. The highly anticipated follow-up to 1991's "Ten," "Vs." sold over 900,000 copies in the first five days of release, a record which, due to an alteration in album sales scoring, is currently unbreakable. Exhibiting a thorough combination of raw angst and aggression with a sense of musical sophistication, "Vs." takes "grunge" to an entirely new level.
This album marks a crucial point in Pearl Jam's history. Upon the release of "Vs.," the band proved it planned to stick around for some time. With the follow-up to "Ten," Pearl Jam brought both international attention to grunge, but a unique group of followers to themselves as well as they started to advance in defining their sound.
If this record were stolen from me, I would appreciate that perhaps I turned another musician onto one of Seattle's best. For this reason, I recommend purchasing two copies.