Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Pearl Jam's Oddest and Most Experimental Album...
on August 1, 2004
No Code(1996). Pearl Jam's Fourth Album.
Pearl Jam, while being one of the best-selling Rock acts of the 90's, was certainly the most creative. Some people would balk at that claim and say, "But Pearl Jam is just a glorified Garage/Grunge band!", when in fact, they are dead wrong. No band since the Beatles and Led Zeppelin has deftly intermixed musical genres with such precision and beauty, and on 'No Code', Pearl Jam hits their experimental peak, with Pearl Jam exploring the music in the East and India, while still retaining their Rock sensibilities. 'No Code' was a difficult album for fans, as many highly enjoyed its experimentation, while others thought Pearl Jam had gone in a little over their heads. 'No Code' flirted breifly with the Charts, but ultimately it became a commercial bomb for Pearl Jam as it didn't garner any hit singles. I was skeptical when I picked up 'No Code', so does it best my expectations or turn out to be a fairly mediocre album like I expected? Read on to find out!
Sometimes- "Sometimes" is a Jazz Ballad, with Vedder harmonizing behind a placid(slow) bass beat, picking up slightly for the chorus where Vedder sings his thoughtful lyrics. Too short, and a tad boring.
Hail, Hail- Hail "Hail, Hail"! "Hail, Hail" is as close as Pearl Jam gets to Heavy Metal, with McCready/Gossard(Henceforth known as "The Duo") spitting out a riff much like on 'Vs.'s "Go", rather dark and uncompromising. Vedder's melodic, yet slightly angry, vocals fly out the speakers, and "The Duo"'s spontaneous solos help him along. "Hail, Hail" is an awesome Heavy Rocker, and one of Pearl Jam's best!
Who You Are- "Who You Are" reminds me of African Folk, yet Pearl Jam uses a catchy bass line behind Vedder's happy, light vocals, not to mention clapping, which gives you the impression you're dancing around a bonfire. An odd but ultimately rewarding song!
In My Tree- "In My Tree" is a fairly slow number, relying on Ament's punctual, up front bass line behind Vedder's deep vocals. The chorus to "In My Tree" picks up the song a lot, and "The Duo"'s guitar talents reach maximum overdrive. An interesting, good song.
Smile- "Smile" is like a Tom Petty song, except replace Tom Petty with Eddie Vedder and instead of an acoustic guitar, you've got a pulsing, distorted electric guitar. "Smile" combines frequent boughts of the harmonica and the Country/Alt. Rock guitar beat, not to mention Vedder's catchy vocals. Good Musicianship makes 'Smile' a good song.
Off He Goes- "Off He Goes" is a Folk/Rock ballad, blends a sweet acoustic guitar riff you'd expect around a campout fire with Vedder's soulful vocals, which almost seemed tinged with a slight Southern Drawl. Much like a Campout Fire song, "Off He Goes" ultimately gets a little boring, but I still think it's a good, heartfelt ballad.
Habit- "Habit", much like "Hail, Hail", is heavy as HELL! In fact, this is the heaviest Pearl Jam song period, with "The Duo"'s deathly/doomy riff blaring out the speakers and Vedder's usually somber vocals absolutely SCREAMing bloody murder. Absolutely awesome guitar work, and the Heavy Metal song totally rocks my world!
Red Mosquito- "Red Mosquito" starts off a little like an Eric Clapton song, with a distorted Bluesy solos placed deftly amongst the beautiful vocals of Vedder. Great guitarwork and solos, not to mention absolutely stunning vocals from Vedder!
Lukin- "Lukin" is an Odd Alt. Rocker, starting off with Vedder's pissed off, fast-talking vocals, much like a Rage Against The Machine song, except it's basically filler because it's only a minute long!
Present Tense- "Present Tense" shows Vedder actually trying to have a Southern Drawl, with him lightly talking behind an almost-not-there guitar beat. Picks up later on, with some interesting India-influenced guitar beats, but most of the song you're waiting for something to happen. Bad start, good ending!
Mankind- "Mankind" is a sarcastic look at Man's Inventions, with Vedder's unusually sarcastic vocals spewing out the funny lyrics behind a chugging alternative, distorted guitar beat that totally rocks! A fun Hard Rocker, with excellent musicianship everywhere!
I'm Open- "I'm Open" is WEIRD! It gives you the experience like you've been abducted by aliens, and your subconscious thoughts are slowly pouring out of your mind(courtesy Vedder). Extremely odd, but interestingly, this song is really quite beautiful for some reason. Basically filler though!
Around The Bend- "Around The Bend" is a slow, jazzy ballad that features a subtle keyboard touch along with Vedder's brooding vocals. Good if you like Jazz, otherwise rather boring.....I fall into the second category.
Overall, 'No Code' has its high points("Hail, Hail", "Habit", "Mankind", "Red Mosquito"), but some tracks seem boring(Ex. "Around The Bend", "Sometimes", "Off He Goes"), and some tracks are disjointed and seem like filler(Ex. "I'm Open", "Present Tense", "Lukin"). 'No Code' isn't bad, but it's not above average either, just average. You will find some great songs, and to the "big fans", they might claim I don't "understand the songs", but I find some of them a bit generic and not up to par with other Pearl Jam albums. Oh well, this is Pearl Jam's worst, but it's still not bad!
RECOMMENDED TO FANS OF PEARL JAM, JAZZ, AND 90'S ROCK. ALTHOUGH MY LEAST FAVORITE PEARL JAM ALBUM, SOME PEOPLE MAY FAVOR IT FOR ITS CREATIVE EXPERIMENTATION!
Vs.- Pearl Jam
Purple- Stone Temple Pilots
Killer Kuts- "Habit", "Hail, Hail", "Mankind", and "Red Mosquito".
Thanks For Reading!