Sunday, March 08, 2009



Remaining stellar long after many of their contemporaries flamed out, Pearl Jam added this exceptional set to their spotless discography in 2000 and set off on a tour that launched 1000 live albums. Force of nature Matt Cameron propels the group in dynamic fashion, securing his position with ease and solving the exploding drummer issues that plagued the band heretofore.

Avoiding arbitrary expiry dates at every turn, there is a fine mix of power and a lighter touch at work. Vedder channels Pete Townshend in the ukulele driven "Soon Forget" with fine results. "Breakerfall" incorporates Who-like passages from two sources and you'll spot them if you're a fan.

Hard hitting one word titles fly at you with stop-start riffs and great changes. These guys put thought and melody into their writing, staying away from trendiness and giving the material a lengthy shelf life.

While "Binaural" is laid back in places, there is an underlying tension and an edge that keeps you interested. "Rival" and "Light Years" are my picks, though it's tough to play favorites with so many good songs competing for your attention. Listen with both ears to a band that has yet to make a bad record.

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