This is Pearl Jam's best album of the 2000s. Continuing where Pearl Jam left off, the band matches the energy of their last outing with better, tighter songs. The lyrics (notably, all are credited to Vedder) are exceptional. No longer bound by anti-Bush righteous rage, Vedder seems to feel freed to sing songs with more empathy and positive energy. There are still plenty of songs about troubled souls and surfing, but the overall tone is warmer and filled more with empathy than anger.
The band's playing is excellent as always, and Brendan O'Brien's return to the fold is welcome - this album, even more than the Ten Redux cd, is proof positive that O'Brien is THE man to produce Pearl Jam's albums. He adds a few touches of keyboards and strings here and there to augment the standard guitar/bass/drums rock format, and the result is a sound perfectly suited to Pearl Jam's strongest batch of songs in years.
Pearl Jam fans who have been waiting for a new great album but weren't quite convinced by their previous cd should give this one a shot, and fans who have stuck with the band all these years will not be disappointed. This is Pearl Jam for 2009 and beyond.
on September 29, 2009
A quick note -
*this album is available for purchase at a regular price at any Target location.
*this album is available for download at a regular price on itunes.
*this album is also available for purchase at any locally-owned record/cd store.
Otherwise you will have to pay the expensive price listed here because Target is the only big-box chain store which sells Backspacer in the United States. Amazon must have fandangled a way to buy it from overseas and then resell it to you here, though that is just a guess.
On to the music.
It is wonderful. The album is again produced by Brendan O'Brian. As a whole the disc feels more upbeat than 2006's self-titled offering. With that being said we still get plenty of Eddie's growl and plenty of songs that rock. If you are already a fan of the band, you ought to stop reading this review and go purchase this now. You will not be disappointed.
The songs on the album are as fresh and inspired as you would expect a new recording to be from a band as creative as Pearl Jam. I feel that Binaural, Riot Act, and Pearl Jam are all excellent albums. But Backspacer is the most 'fun' to listen to of that group. The songs are tight, concise, and inventive. I doubt anything on the album is much longer than four minutes.
I was pleasantly surprised Target had a supply of Backspacer available for purchase on vinyl, and that is what I bought. The disc is nice and heavy, probably along the lines of 180 grams. It doesn't seem quite as hefty as some of my 200 gram records. Regardless, the sound quality is excellent. This is about all I have to say. I feel an album needs many years to really grow on me and allow me to accurately compare it alongside the material that came before it. But I can easily give this recording a five-star rating, and recommend it heartily to Pearl Jam fans, and fans of good music in general.
on November 11, 2009
This is how bands should make and sell cd's. This is the version which comes with download codes to get two complete PJ shows (like an additional 60 some songs!!!!!)
First the Backspacer album itself. Incredible. Production and songs are amazing. The first two songs have a more hardcore edge. Fixer opens up into an amazing anthem sound. Poetic lyrics, amazing singing, hard rocking guitars, excellent drumming and bass. This is the best band of the last twenty years, and this album proved it to me. This album is a MUST listen to. The entire album as a whole flows great together. Especially from Just Breathe to The End. It is concise and tight, and not a moment is wasted. Awesome.
Again, this is the version where you get to choose from 10 or 12 concerts and can download those COMPLETE concerts. So for one price you get the album, and two complete shows. This is a deal you cannot beat. After hearing the live shows, I have been converted into a complete Pearl Jam maniac!!!! Believe me, this album is and band is ALL THAT!!!!!
on September 22, 2009
First off, I will let you know that I am biased in the fact that PJ is my favorite band of all time and I love all of their stuff. This album is great. The guys seem to be evolving and moving in a different direction with each album. The one thing that I love, (and that others seem to hate because they say "when is Pearl Jam going to equal the material that they put out on Ten)?, is that these guys progress musically and experiment, rather than rehashing old material. Each of their albums is excellent in the fact that they are willing to try something new. Sure, there are straight forward facemelters on Backspacer along with slow songs (I refuse to call any of PJ's songs ballads), but that is to be expected from a rock band. That is what they do. The thing is, they are different than the ones that were on Ten or Yield or Riot Act etc. That is great in my opinion. The sonics and reverb used on Backspacer is great. The percussion and bass is just right. The vocals and lyrics are awesome. All around this is a great album. And if these dudes don't win some kind of award for packaging, something is wrong with society in general.
Peace and Love,
on November 5, 2013
Love this album. Purchased it when it first came out in 2009. Has cool rockers like Got Some, The Fixer, Gonna See My Friends, Johnny Guitar, and Supersonic. A great love song in Just Breathe. A tearjerker in The End. Both songs used in episodes of Castle. Speed of Sound is a nice song. Some prefer the demo version. But both are great. My top 3 on the album though are Unthought Known, Force of Nature, and Amongst the Waves.
on January 13, 2013
Back when this album was released I was in the hospital, for 6 months, and I was unaware of it! I am enjoying so far, I have yet to replay it more than once but so far it kicks ass! Pear Jam is one of my favorite bands, they rock! (Pun was intended) lol
on May 11, 2011
I just discovered Pearl Jam in October 2010, and have been enjoying listening to all their albums, including Backspacer. Although there are songs I love on every single one of their albums, Backpacer is the only one where I love every song. Of course I love some more than others-Force of Nature is my top favorite, but Just Breathe, Unthought Known, The Fixer, and Got Some rank high in my book. I have also noticed how Eddie's vocals sound even better on here than on the "Avocado" album.
If you are a brand new fan or have been a fan of PJ for many years, I highly recommend this album.
on March 2, 2015
I had to exchange Backspacer because the first one wouldn't play right out of the sleeve, and neither would the second. I ended up just buying the album from the Pearl Jam website instead. The album itself is excellent though!
on June 9, 2014
I have been kind of on-and-off with Pearl Jam over the years. Hearing Ten was life-changing for me as a teen, providing a true alternative to the hair metal and bland pop to which everyone else seemed to be listening at the time. Ten, along with Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger, Temple of the Dog's one album, and U2's Achtung Baby, was my entryway into the world of music. However, by the time Vitalogy came along, I was starting to listen to other things. I'll admit that some of the experimental music on that disc was just a bit too weird for me and made it difficult to appreciate the album as a whole until a few years later. It wasn't until the very late 90s that I discovered No Code and Yield, which became my two favorite Pearl Jam albums. Those two, especially the insightful No Code, cemented Pearl Jam in my list of great rock n roll bands. But then I had trouble connecting with the three albums that followed Yield. While Binaural was ok, Riot Act and Pearl Jam just seemed to meander. I once again drifted away from Pearl Jam and stopped paying attention to what they were doing.
It was watching the Pearl Jam 20 documentary that reignited my appreciation for the band and sent me looking to see what they had been up to over the past few years. I was particularly impressed at how mature the band members now seemed, and I was curious how that perspective effected their sound. I was pleasantly surprised to discover my favorite Pearl Jam album since Yield. This record is a lot more focused than the last three, with a greater level of energy and a sense of positivity earned through struggle. The better songs (The Fixer, Amongst The Waves, Supersonic) build riffs into soaring anthems like in days of old. Johnny Guitar is quite clever, almost serving as a tribute to the New Wave era. Just Breathe drops any and all pretense for a simple and heartfelt love song. The rest of the songs range from ok to a bit dull, but none quite fall to the level of filler. While there are no songs of the caliber of Yellow Ledbetter, Given To Fly, I Got Id, Evenflow, or Present Tense here, there is enough good material to keep me coming back. That is saying something.
Simply put, this album was a pleasant surprise and far better than I was expecting. Now a veteran band with some great albums under their belt, the members of Pearl Jam seem very free to do what pleases them. That sense of freedom comes through on this disc and makes it one of their best in years.
on November 21, 2013
As a HUGE fan of Pearl Jam, it's tough to rank and rate their albums because even the ones that are my least favorite still have a number of songs I enjoy. However, I can easily say that Yield is my favorite and Backspacer is my favorite album that has been released since Yield, including Lightning Bolt. I'm not sure why I didn't post a review when it first came out, guess I'm playing catch up!
The way this album opens up with 4 straight-ahead rockers is awesome; it's a fun album that's very "up" in comparison to the last few that preceded it. All four openers are great, I love the punky bassline from "Got Some" and the throwback style of "Johnny Guitar". Things slow down a little with "Just Breathe", which may sound familiar as it's nearly identical to "Tuolumne" from Eddie Vedder's "Into The Wild" soundtrack. Up next is one of my favorite PJ tracks, "Amongst The Waves", which reminds me of "Given To Fly" as it builds and levels out, much like actual waves. After that comes "Unthought Known", another track that builds in the same way, and then the volume goes up to 11 with "Supersonic", a fast, frantic rocker with a rowdy jam in the middle. The only two tracks on this album I'm not entirely fond of are "Speed of Sound" and "The End", but the song that breaks up the pair is a great track, "Force Of Nature", which to me sounds unlike anything they've done before. I love the buzzing of Mike's guitar in the intro and the pacing and style of the song overall reminds me of Steve Winwood's "While You See A Chance".
I think this is a great Pearl Jam album, more focused and less conceptual than others.
I'd have to say is it's in my top 3 (with Yield, and an undecided 3rd) from them.