Thanks to its stripped-down, lean production, Vitalogy
stands as Pearl Jam
's most original and uncompromising album. While it isn't a concept album, Vitalogy
sounds like one. Death and despair shroud the album, rendering even the explosive celebration of vinyl "Spin the Black Circle" somewhat muted. But that black cloud works to Pearl Jam
's advantage, injecting a nervous tension to brittle rockers like "Last Exit" and "Not for You," and especially introspective ballads like "Corduroy" and "Better Man." In between the straight rock numbers and the searching slow songs, Pearl Jam
contribute their strangest music -- the mantrafunk of "Aye Davanita," the sub-Tom Waits
accordion romp of "Bugs," and the chilling sonic collage "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me." Pearl Jam
are at their best when they're fighting, whether it's Ticketmaster, fame, or their own personal demons.