Release Date: September 20, 2009
Record Label: Monkeywrench Records
Pearl Jam’s ninth. Backspacer opens with “Gonna See My Friend”, a nice rock song with a chorus reminiscent of early Aerosmith. This is followed by the ultimately forgettable “Got Some.” The album picks up again with one of the best tracks, “The Fixer.” The song’s pop and punk driven style features a very strong performance by vocalist Eddie Vedder.
The next track “Johnny Guitar” has an interesting bridge in the middle of the song, but is otherwise skippable. This is where is starts to go downhill. “Just Breathe” sounds like a Lindsey Buckingham song, but you can actually hear the vocals. “Amongst the Waves” is sterile, and “Unthought Known” sounds like a bad Coldplay song.
After four lackluster tracks, “Supersonic” begins to redeem Backspacer with it’s punk rock sound and interesting arrangement. “Speed of Sound” has a meandering feel to it, almost like that of some 70’s experimental rock music. But the next track, “Force of Nature,” is just another sterile generic rock tune like “Got Some.”
The final track “The End” is a stripped-down piece featuring guitar and orchestration. It’s also the best vocal performance Vedder has to offer on Backspacer. His control and the way he coveys emotion are truly phenomenal.
It sounds like Pearl Jam had a great time recording this album. There’s a lot of energy to the music and is sounds like the band’s chemistry is mixing well. It’s unfortunate that more of that energy did not result is better song writing. The strengths and weaknesses of Backspacer are clear. Four or five of the tracks are really good, but the rest don’t really hold up well.
- “Gonna See My Friend”
- “Got Some”
- “The Fixer”
- “Johnny Guitar”
- “Just Breathe”
- “Amongst the Waves”
- “Unthought Known”
- “Speed of Sound”
- “Force of Nature”
- “The End”