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Backspacer
Pearl Jam Backspacer
Released 20 September 2009
Producer Brendan O'Brien
Label Monkeywrench
Length 36:38
Genre Alternative rock
Website pearljam.com
75

On playing the first track of Pearl Jams new album Backspacer, my first thought was, this is pretty upbeat stuff. I’d heard their first single, the brilliant ‘The Fixer’, which was a lively number in its own right, but I had presumed it would be Backspacer’s version of ‘Do the Evolution’. How wrong I was. In Backspacer Pearl Jam have produced not only their liveliest but their most feel good album to date. This is let your hair down and have a laugh music. Unsurprisingly Pearl Jam do it incredibly well. It sounds like the most fun the band have ever had in the studio. And the best thing is it’s still that classic Pearl Jam sound, just with an optimistic feel throughout. If you’re a Pearl Jam fan already you will love this, and if you are not a Pearl Jam fan, what’s wrong with you?

Even on Backspacer’s quieter moments, (probably 3 of the 11 tracks) Eddie Vedder tries to keep a bright tone to everything, if the subject matter remains a little dark. There has always been a darkness when it came to Vedder lyrics, particularly when it came to his more isolated songs, just him and his guitar. It’s fair to say at his darkest he has produced some of the best songs of the last twenty years. On Backspacer he doesn’t break the habit. ‘The End’ the last track on the album is probably the best example of this on Backspacer. He sings ‘help me see myself / cause I can no longer tell / looking out from the inside of the bottom of the well / its hell’. This is classic Vedder, but it does seem a little out of sync with Backespacer. In saying that it is easy to understand why the song is included here, it is beautiful.

Backspacer will undoubtedly take on a life of its own when Pearl Jam takes it on the road. This album was written for a live audience, written for Pearl Jam fans. The band are never going to produce another Ten or Vs, but Backspacer is as good as, if not better than anything else they have emitted out into the rock universe.

- David Prendergast