With Kurt Cobain and his agonized beauty so sadly gone, down on Pearl Jam thuds the dreaded mantle: spokesmen for their generation, genre, hometown, whatever. Vitalogy is their refusal. On the standout, "Corduroy," Eddie Vedder states, "I don't want to be held in your debt," and throughout this bracing collection, he maneuvers for daylight, release, transcendence.
Pearl Jam, however, have always been about bursting out. Lumped in with the grunge pack, they never belonged. Their virtues a stylistic range from metal to funk,... Read More
blazing musicianship, a singer with golden pipes are almost classical, not primitive, ones; their rage mirrors that of their peers-rivals (Nirvana, Soundgarden), but it comes clean of pique or self-pity. Instead, theirs is a kind of romantic fury, Vedder bellowing like a noble savage, Stone Gossard's and Mike McCready's guitars a Valhalla of sound.
Vitalogy lifts them higher into their rare aerie. Thunderous rock ("Last Exit," "Spin the Black Circle"), mythic allusions ("Tremor Christ," "Satan's Bed") and laments of a naked beauty ("Better Man," "Nothingman") reveal a fiercely idiosyncratic vision. Even when this band missteps ("Stupid Mop," an unbearable experiment), it moves with giant strides. (RS 698/699)