Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pearl Jam- "Mind Your Manners" and "Sirens" Singles

Monkey Wrench Records

I feel as if I should start off my review of these two new Pearl Jame singles by stating up-front in full-disclosure mode that I'm never been a fan of this post-Mother Love Bone band. Honestly when the band's debut album "Ten" dropped in 1991 I didn't care and when it finally broke into the mainstream in 1992 I cared even less. To me there was this great band (Mother Love Bone) and then there was Pearl Jam. Part of the problem I had with this bunch was when it came to Eddie Vedder, well, he was no Andrew Wood. His vocals annoyed me for the longest time. Beyond that I just found Pearl Jam's actual music to be only so-so. I never understood what all the hype was back then in the early 90's and, for the most part, even now. So, why then would I purposely go out of my way to cover any Pearl Jam material? If  I'm admittedly not into them why even listen to the new stuff? Call it a challenge I guess. A friend told me that these singles showed a different Pearl Jam. Maybe he's right or maybe he's wrong. As I haven't paid any attention to these guys I don't know if this is the natural progression for this group or if this is indeed some radical change. Either way read on as I tackle the first two singles from the band's forthcoming album, "Lightning Bolt".
 First up was "Mind Your Manners". Having never been a fan of Pearl Jam anyway (in case you were not aware of that as many times as I've mentioned it LOL!) I approached this one with skepticism. On album number ten, or at least this first single from it, I see that the band is pushing the punk rock aspect of their sound to the very front of the show. Wait, Pearl Jam has a punk side? I didn't know they had it either! Reportedly it was Pearl Jam's lead guitarist Mike McCready who actually set the tone for this track. He wanted to create a "really hard edge-type Dead Kennedys-sounding song". OK. I could see where he was going with this one, but what he strove for and what they ended up were two different things. In reality "Mind Your Manners" comes across more like a stripped-down garage rocker with a loose punk rock mentality then a heavy hardcore crusher. In other words it's not exactly the hardcore of  Jello Biafra's band. However, and I can't believe I'm going to admit to this one folks, it's not a bad little rocker at all. It's not something to stop the presses over, but it's a well-designed number that showcases the band in a looser state of mind.

Meanwhile single number two, "Sirens",  sounds as though it wants to make a case for a more folksy Pearl Jam. Stacked next to "Mind Your Manners" it's comes off as a simple cut in every sense of the word. It's not just that it's vanilla. Instead it just feels like a tired number from a tired band. Trying to find some form of life in this cut proved to be a near impossible task. It was like playing a game of trying where's Waldo in a pitch black cave with the added difficulty that Waldo would be dressed all in black from head to toe! If this was the first single off of this album then I couldn't see how anyone would be excited to hear all of "Lighting Bolt". The only good part of the track (besides when it ended!) was the fact that it at least shows that Pearl Jam offers variety these days. Other then that it's a real downer of a song that's (at best) "fair", but that's just being kind. So yeah, I loathed "Sirens".

So, after all these years it looks as if my opinion of Pearl Jam hasn't changed much. These two songs show how so-so their music still is. But, at least I tried and that has to count for something right?

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