I can't believe Pearl Jam still has an album this good in them. Look, Binaural was a great record, and both Riot Act and Pearl Jam were decent and had a handful of truly stellar tracks.
But Backspacer feels like it came out of nowhere, like a Louisville Slugger to the face, or a steel toe in the balls, this album breathes and feels and moves like nothing the band has done in quite some time.
First off, "The Fixer" makes a lot more sense as the third track on the record rather than a standalone. It follows two of the bands strongest, hardest rocking songs of any recent album in "Gonna See My Friend" and "Got Some."
This is a tight, short album - it's quick and too the point. There's no bull shitting around, no ruminating on points. This is a well-oiled rock band operating at the height of its emotional potential. It explains the live sets that have been kicking fans asses for the last month or so.
The solo on "Amongst The Waves" is particularly searing, and Matt Cameron is rolling all over his drums on the entire album. Seriously, Cameron must be feeling ignored, because suddenly I feel like I've been neglecting the guy, and he's been steadily solid from the start in Soundgarden on. Then again, I mention Dave Grohl as the best drummer alive at least once a week and he doesn't even play drums most of the time.
Songs like "Speed of Sound" and "Just Breathe" so a band moving comfortably into middle age. They don't sound crusty though, they sound certain with what they're doing. On "Speed of Sound," Eddie Vedder sings about somehow surviving - and that's what the band has done. They've stuck around long enough that they albums are judged only as Pearl Jam albums, regardless of the rest of the world. It sounds like the band is in a good place.
Pearl Jam is a modern classic rock band in the sense that, well, they feel like they've been around forever and they act like it but without the pomposity. Vedder told Rolling Stone that fans will have to trust the band to do the right thing. He was talking about the Target deal - which is a pretty good deal for fans who buy the record there - but he's right; just trust the band. Backspacer is the best proof yet that they know what they're doing.