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Pearl Jam: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar); Stone Gossard, Mike McCready (guitar); Jeff Ament (bass); Matt Cameron (drums).
Additional personnel: April Cameron (viola); Justine Foy (cello); Mitchell Froom (harmonium, keyboards); Pete Thomas, Wendy Melvoin (percussion).
Recorded at Studio Litho, Seattle, Washington.
"Grievance" was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Amidst predictable pre-fabricated teen sensations and saccharine-loaded pop, the sturdy severity that Pearl Jam embraces on its sixth studio album almost seems quaint and archaic. But this stubborn refusal to assimilate makes for some challenging, and eventually rewarding, listening.
Hearing Eddie Vedder bellow on the Who-like bashing of "Breakerfall," and the pounding "God's Dice," shows how much Bush's Gavin Rossdale and Creed's Scott Stapp looked to this San Diego native for inspiration. Former Soundgarden drummer and longtime friend Matt Cameron replaces the departed Jack Irons, and also composes the music for the choppy "Evacuation." Other non-Vedder contributions include the ethereal slide and glide of Stone Gossard's "Of The Girl," and the sparse poignancy of Jeff Ament's "Nothing As It Seems." About the only time Pearl Jam repeats itself is with "Thin Air" a mellow number that could pass as the sequel to the J. Frank Wilson hit "Last Kiss" that the band recorded for the 1999 Kosovar refugee benefit album NO BOUNDARIES. Oddest of all is "Soon Forget," a frothy number that finds Vedder doing a clenched teeth impression of Nick Drake, while making like Arthur Godfrey and accompanying himself on ukulele.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (6/8/00, pp.117-8) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...A warts-and-all album...it comes across as part of an extended conversation among the band....delving into jumpy post-punk and somber meditations, tightly wound folk rock and turbulent, neopsychedelic rockers..."
Spin (7/00, p.149) - 7 out of 10 - "...[They] relax into rock's postures and refine them....Everything you want is still there - goofy experimentalism, guitar frenzy, Eddie's self-abusive wail. It's just more solid, more clear..."
Entertainment Weekly (5/19/00, p.74) - "...Features more vulnerability than anger in its probing words....featuring the most forceful riffs since their best work, VS..." - Rating: B+
Q (7/00, p.121) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Easy to listen to....When Pearl jam gel...it's close to special....Grunge may have died, but Pearl Jam it seems will never be slayed..."
Magnet (8-9/00, pp.86-7) - "...Near-brilliant...[they] are bravely going into the woods....jolts of psychological amphetamines [and] smoldering slabs of sonic complexity..."
CMJ (5/29/00, p.3) - "...The group delivers a well-rounded work of earthy rock....confidently vacillating between epic power rock, slower, and experimental spacious tracks....[proving] Pearl Jam is still capable of sheer brilliance..."
NME (Magazine) (5/13/00, p.33) - 9 out of 10 - "...It's a seething, furious album; a declamatory statement against cynicism and passivity and the simple injustices of everyday life....An object lesson in rock'n'roll from some true believers, [it] burns with the intensity and desperation of a last stand..."