Fatigued, not defeated.
The disenchantment with the business of being in a band couldn't overpower the love for the music. That's corny, yet true. Neil Young recruited them for his Mirror Ball album, which in turn reinvigorated the group, which now featured former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer/long-time pal Jack Irons.
"Sometimes"--"Selfin'" is risky. Just a toe in can be hazardous. The body and mind can't be kept separate, and neither guarantees prosperity. They can be made unequal though, and there's the trick. No one will ever buy a picture of my prominent gums, but they might buy a story about a gay Francophile who suffers inexplicable hallucinations.
Eddie Vedder's made it this far (I mean 2017, not 1996) on the selfin' wave. To which I say
"Hail, Hail"--The avuncular trait of caging one's emotions can function in place of a love declaration. Robust of voice and hearty of, uh, heart, Edward is pleased for "the lucky ones," but it's a bridled joy.
"Who You Are"--The more I eat, the more I want to eat. One of the least-sounding Pearl Jam songs in their catalogue, to general success.
"In My Tree"--Which, tradition dictates, must be high or low. I've never been inside a tree house. Why the walls? Branches and leaves are support plenty for anyone who bothers to climb that high.
"Smile"--Dance classes are for trophy hunters. Why pay someone to tell you what your body lets you know for free?
"Off He Goes"--Him and her, the usual. Hem and haw, the musical. At least it's not about heroin.
"Habit"--I never thaw chew rabbits, either.
Speaking as an 80s Baby…what a magnificent decade for music. Pearl Jam would have fit in fine, just sold much less.
"Red Mosquito"--Summer brings bugs, who bring bites. Wow would I love to meet a person who so coveted my skin.
"Lukin"--I've never had a stalker. Eddie Vedder did. Incensed at how powerless he felt, he did what he had to--go to the cops? Well, I meant write a song, but yeah. Alert authorities for sure. "Lukin" is thoroughly unsettling, never more so than at its peroration.
"Present Tense"--The present is a constant. Every single moment we live through is classifiable as the present moment. More unstable than tense, preferable to future shock.
"Mankind"--Stone Gossard steps up to show what J Mascis fronting a Devo cover band specializing in Mark's songs would sound like.
"I'm Open"--Spoken bookends…something about a Kafka-esque crisis. Gives way willingly to a near-life experience. The past, remembered fondly, has not been touched in years. The yellowed surface and bent corner speaks for itself.
"Around the Bend"--This ain't CCR. More like ZZZ Top.
Turmoil, murtoil. Pearl Jam's most introspective and self-contained album became its fourth #1--and their first to not achieve multi-platinum status. On some level, this had to relieve them.