The inaugural listen-through of Pearl Jam is complete, and all I can say is…meh. Not that I’m surprised by my reaction: I’ve actually never liked a Pearl Jam album the first time I’ve heard it (Ten, for instance, took me at least a month to get into). In the end, the anticipation builds to a fever pitch…and when the album doesn’t make my head simultaneously combust by the end of track three, I’m left feeling slightly disappointed.
I’m not sure how else I could possibly react, actually. I’ve been waiting for this day, theoretically speaking, for three-and-a-half years; when you’ve been waiting for something for as long as I’ve been waiting for the new Pearl Jam album, you’re bound to feel slightly let down when you actually get what you’ve been waiting for (if that makes sense). It’s like when I heard “Jungleland” live: as soon as I got over the “ohmigosh, is this actually happening right in front of me??!” phase, I was strangely nonplussed by the whole experience. It’s the same with Pearl Jam. Given time, I’ll be hailing it as the greatest album since Zeppelin IV…but in the meantime, you’ll need to forgive me (or laud me?) for my restraint.
And having said that…man, does this thing rock. The opening four songs–all of which I’d heard previously, by the way–hit with unrelenting and reckless abandon, while some of the slower stuff (i.e., “Come Back”) seems destined, or doomed, for the iPods of every single college girl in the western hemisphere. (Go ahead, download it–then try telling me that I’m wrong.) The band apparently rediscovered old school punk before 2004’s Vote for Change tour; that influence is rife on Pearl Jam, along with Matt Cameron’s love affair with odd time signatures. But the star here, as usual, is the Vedderman, whose voice has evolved into a musical weapon of mass destruction. He hasn’t sound this good since…well, ever. After a few more listens, I’m sure I’ll be showering the entire band–and, indeed, their newest release–with the exact same compliment.
As if a new Pearl Jam album weren’t enough excitement for a single Tuesday, Tool also saw fit to release its latest album, 10,000 Days, this morning. I’d be willing to bet than one out of every two people who enters a music store today is buying one or both of these albums; in fact, the guy in front of me at Future Shop this morning was buying two copies of 10,000 Days, along with a single copy of Pearl Jam for good measure. If the new Pearl Jam album is going to take me at least a few listens to appreciate, then the Tool album (which I’m currently listening to for the first time) will take at least five years. Seriously: it took me at least a year to appreciate Lateralus, and from what I can gather that album was at least five times more accessible than 10,000 Days. This isn’t a criticism so much as a statement about Tool c2006. Gone are the radio friendly days of “Sober” and “Stinkfist” (although we probably should have suspected as much when AEnema came out). The new album has eleven tracks and clocks in at a staggering seventy-seven minutes. You do the math. The point: it’s hard to digest a new Tool album; once again, you’ll have to give me time to figure out how I feel about it
I’ve also got a pile of marking to finish by tonight. God bless two of my favourite bands for releasing new albums on the same time, which both necessitated at least a cursory blog entry. Thus, an entire morning is written off.