Sound — 10
Yield is the purest guitar record Pearl Jam has made since Ten -- arguably their purest since there are so few frills here. The music is awesome the whole way through, and there is a looseness to it that was missing on some of the earlier records. There is a sense of fun and playfulness attatched to almost all of these songs that was missing on the earlier records that makes Yield very accessible. If there was one Pearl Jam album to listen to when you are in a good mood and want to stay that way, it's Yield.
Lyrics — 8
I think there is a fairly noticable change in Eddie's vocals on this album, compared to his past work. Rather than really let his voice go he starts to hold himself back. There is a coiled tension that didn't exist before, which adds new layers to the vocals, but also take away a little bit of the power. Songs like In Hiding, Faithful, and Given To Fly don't soar the way they would have if they were recorded in 1994, but there is more nuance to them. It's a tradeoff, and you have to hear it before you can decide which you prefer. The lyrics were supposedly inspired by Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, and while it comes across in certain songs, particularly Do the Evolution and Push Me/Pull Me, the album seems more about learning to push limits, to escape. Certainly you can pull that out of Ishmael but many of the more interesting social and political implications of that book only show up sporadically. When Eddie writes the lyrics they are good. No duds from him, and some of his best writing can be found here. Do The Evolution is dripping with sarcasm, Given To Fly is majestic, and Wishlist has some of his best individual lines ever. Where the album breaks down is when Eddie stops writing. No Way has some outstanding guitar work, but the lyrics are awful. Pilate, Lowlight, and All Those Yesterdays are all strong songs musically (and Lowlight has a devoted following amongst the diehards) but these could all be classics if Eddie had penned them.
Overall Impression — 10
Yield is an excellent rock record, one solid song after another. Brain of J is a scorching opener that is arguably the best thing they ever led off an album with (and that is an elite field). Faithful picks up on some of the spiritual questing from No Code but ups the volume. No Way has some of the best guitar work Pearl Jam's ever done, but sub par lyrics prevent the song from being a classic. Given To Fly, on the other hand, is. It's about transcending limitations, both internal and external, and everything comes together to make this one of the most magestic pieces Pearl jam ever did. Wishlist is a collection of dreams and desires from the touching (I wish I was the full moon shining off your camero's hood) to the profound (I wish I was the verb to trust and never let you down), and features Mike McCready's best most touching guitar solo this side of I am Mine. Pilate is interesting, but like No Way, the lyrics prevent it from really breaking through. Do The Evolution is intense, and the video (the only non-rehersal video the band made since Jeremy)has to be seen to really capture how brilliant the song is. If you like it, read Ishmael. The hallaleujah bridge is one of the creepiest, and coolest, things Pearl jam has ever done. MFC, like much of the album, is a song about escaping, about just getting in the car and driving. From the opening notes, which sound like someone gunning an engine, through some really tight verses, right up until the end this is an excellent three minute ride. In Hiding, like Faithful, is a stab at the classic pearl jam big classic rock sound, and is a solid song with a great riff, although the vocals don't quite give the song the heft it needs. Lowlight anticipates Last Kiss, a touching song about losing a loved one in a car crash, and it is a gorgeous song, although sub par lyrics prevent it from being as powerful as it could be. Push me/Pull me is one of their most experimental songs to date, and is much more easy on the ears than its equivelants on Vitalogy, with interesting music and solid lyrics. All Those Yesterdays is easily the most playful song they ever closed out a record with, a fun beatlesesque closer to a strong album. While the best stuff on Yield is as good as their best stuff anywhere, there is not enough of it for Yield to rank as thier finest hour. Having said that, it is as good a straight rock record as anything that came out of the late 90's, and it's worth mentioning that amongst the die hards, Yield and No Code are often considered their best records.