After a weighty, politically-charged release in 'Riot Act', Pearl Jam have moved backward in the most positive sense possible. This newest release, 'Pearl Jam', harkens back to the days of 'Vitalogy', with Eddie's voice sounding more like it did on "Spin the Black Circle," than it did on anything from 'Binaural'. The first single off 'Pearl Jam', "World Wide Suicide," is as catchy a tune as PJ has released in the last ten years. Much of the album follows in the single's footsteps, with catchy riffs and snappy hooks.
Vedder and co. have collaborated effectively on more than one track, including "Unemployable," written by Eddie, Matt, and Mike. "Wasted Reprise," a double-take of the album's first track, "Life Wasted," is only 50 seconds long, and yet manages to be one of the highlights of the album. It's slow intensity is also present in "Come Back," and "Parachutes", which both show that Vedder has not lost the ballad touch that made "...Small Town", and "Black" so classic.
Pearl Jam has certainly shown that they are back to true rock form, without having lost their political intensity. This time, however, it is so nicely balanced that one only notices the politics if one cares to look that deep. Otherwise, it is still on the surface, a great rock album, and possibly one of Pearl Jam's best.