Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pearl Jam - Yield

It was a very close thing to see what would be next on my list of top PJ albums. It was a toss-up between this and my number one choice, it really was very close. In the end I chose Yield because I feel it is the sound of a band who are confident and comfortable with their sound (thanks in no small part to Jack Irons). Every song on the album displays a maturity about them. This is particularly impressive after the mauling No Code received. Although there were some great songs on that album (Smile, Red Mosquito, Present Tense), it was the sound of a band trying to discover themselves. I think, however, if it wasn't for its predecessor, the band would not have been able to produce such a confident album. There are few weak tracks here and few 'experimental' efforts to skip past. Furthermore, it is rather more of a group effort than some of their previous work. Eddie seemed to have let go a little of his creative hold, and this allowed others to flourish. Both Jeff and Stone contribute lyrics to the album, while Mike has more of an influence than he has on previous albums. It is, to me anyway, a pretty near perfect band effort and deserving of more attention than some people actually give.

Yield opens with Brain of J, a rocky foot stomper of a song in a similar style to earlier album openers like Last Exit and Go. The lyrics display a new found confidence with lines like 'the whole world/will be different soon/The whole world/Will be relieve-ed' - another example of Eddie's love of playing with words. The song appears to be about indoctrination and standing 'behind the stripe', quite appropriate in today's climate. It also shows off Mike McCready's guitar playing and increased confidence in the band with a credit for writing the music for the opener.

Faithfull and No Way come next and they are two of my favourite tracks on the album. The first seems to hint that Eddie is fed up 'screaming...echoes that nobody hears'. It also touches on blind faith, in the system that 'controls....a box of fear'. No Way is one of my favourite PJ songs. Again it suggest that Ed has 'stopped trying to make a difference' before admitting 'No way' (although Stone wrote the lyrics, it seems to fit Eddie really well). I love the sound of the guitar on this track and the chorus is something you can definitely sing-a-long to in your car. One of their rockier efforts, it will always be on my playlist.

Next follows Given to Fly. A typical PJ song, this builds slowly before coming to a crashing finale. Another one of their all time greatest songs, it comes across as a very optimistic song about a man who was 'given to fly'. It has some fantastic lines in this song such as: 'he floated back down/cause he wanted to share/ the key to the locks on the chains he saw/everywhere'. A beautiful song and another one written with Mike.

Wishlist is a slow moving song about what Ed wishes he was. It runs literally like a wish list, with lines like 'I wish I was a neutron bomb/For once I could go off' and continues in a similar manner throughout. I have to confess, it is not one of my favourite songs, but I have to admire the lyrics.

Pilate and Do the Evolution see the band crank up the rock factor once more. Pilate was written by Jeff and has the most bizarre lyric I have yet come across: 'Like Pilate/I have a dog'. I have to concede I have no idea what this means!! It is however, another cracking song, if only to sing that line in the chorus! Do the Evolution is a punkier effort than others on the album. Once again, it displays Eddie's knack for writing fantastic lyrics. When released the song was accompanied by the first promo since Jeremy. Joint directed by Todd McFarlane, it tells the tale of our evolution in rather bleak terms. To read more about the video click here. The song itself is pretty damning on the human race as a whole with lines like: 'I'm a thief/I'm a liar/There's my church/I sing in the choir'. A pretty pessimistic song to say the least, I highly recommend checking out the video - it's even more shocking than the song would suggest.

There then follows a little musical interlude courtesy of Jack with the lyrics 'War...I'm crazy...War, I'm crazy, I'm war'. This is followed by MFC. Clocking in at 2mins 27secs, you wish it could be longer. Another rockier track, it plays out over a repetitive guitar and driving drum beat. It is also another one of my favourite PJ songs....I just wish it was longer!!

Following MFC is Low Light and In Hiding. Two more beautiful slower songs, the former written by Jeff, the latter by Stone and Eddie. Both are typical slower numbers that would sit comfortably on any PJ album. Once again they display the range of Eddie's unique and powerful voice.

Wrapping up the album are Push me, Pull me and All Those Yesterdays. The former is one of their more experimental tracks. However, unlike previous efforts, this bears repeated listening and isn't quite as skip inducing as its predecessors. All Those Yesterdays is one of their now standard album closers. This is, in fact, one of their strongest and best album closers. Building with just the sound of a guitar and Eddie's voice, it ends with a frantic chorus and makes a satisfying end to one of their best works.

Overall, I would highly recommend this album to anyone who is interested in checking out their back catalogue. Although it didn't sell as many copies as earlier efforts (a nonetheless respectable 1.5 million), it displays a real confidence in the band and a sense that they are all comfortable with their place. At times deeply pessimistic, it rips into human behaviour on many songs (particularly Do the Evolution) and yet it is a beautiful album that has many wonderful songs within. It really was a tough decision between this and my next choice and even now I am having some doubts.

Stand-out Tracks: Brain of J, Faithfull, No Way, Given to Fly, Do the Evolution, MFC, All Those Yesterdays