Why Pearl Jamís Yield is One of the Best Fucking Albums Ever Made
February 3, 2012

Pearl Jamís fifth studio album Yield was released on February 3, 1998. In a few more years, babies born on that date will be old enough to drive and hopefully know what a yield sign is for. I was 21 when the album was new. I had been a fan of Pearl Jam ever since MTV imposed them upon my generation early in 1992, and after the hype subsided, Yield was there to take music to a level no marketing department could ever fucking dream of.

Like any great album, Yield is an ideal road trip album. Itís even got a picture of a road on the cover, and not just any fucking road, but an open highway. And yet, thereís a yield sign on the side of this highway. Open the cover, and youíll see the yield sign in the middle of an ocean. What the fuck, Pearl Jam? I suppose the message is that no matter how clear the road (or water way) is ahead, something can still fuck up your day. Always be prepared to yield.

The album begins with Brain of J, which blazes a trail of fiery discontent with scorching guitars and its mocking chorus: ďthe whole world will be different soon, the whole world will be relievedĒ. Faithfull, intentionally misspelled with two lís, is full of everything that makes this album great (details to come). No Way is so fucking good, I donít want to say anything more about it. Given to Fly is where the album... how do I make this not sound fucking cheesy? takes flight... no... gets its wings... no... it just fucking tickles your eardrum with a prickly little guitar lick and then grabs you by the throat with each huge chorus. You really feel like a human being thatís given to fly by the time itís done, especially if you hear it live in concert, trust me. Next is Wishlist, which is just fucking beautiful, no matter what any fucker says. Pilate? It fucking jams. Do the Evolution? Holy fuck. Itís played slower on the album than how itís played live, but Eddie sounds fucking possessed on the album version. Itís one of their absolute best songs. Thereís nothing else like it. Perhaps the most heartfelt sarcasm ever recorded. I fucking mean that, okay? The next track, represented on the back cover as a red dot, is a weird little jam with simple, true lyrics: ďWeíre all crazy, weíre all crazy at war.Ē MFC (Ďmini fast carí) is about getting the fuck out of Dodge and has one of my favorite lyrics ever: ďThereís a lot to be said for nowhereĒ. Low Light is another one of Pearl Jamís most beautiful moments. In Hiding is the albumís majestic high point, and by the way that is one fucking difficult song to sing. Push Me, Pull Me is lyrically at odds with the nature of reality and sonically at odds with all the trends of the 90ís or any decade before that - pretty fucking cool. Finally we have All Those Yesterdays reminding us to let each day wash away and that itís no crime to escape. Except itís not done yet because thereís the hidden track, which is a middle-eastern flavored tune about hummus. What the fuck, Pearl Jam? Oh, right... something can always appear out of the blue. Be ready to fucking yield.

Yield is Pearl Jamís best work in the studio and producer Brendan OíBrien deserves all due credit. The guitars are layered together dynamically, and everything from raw crunch, fiery wail, funky twang and simple fucking beautifulness is delivered with sonic excellence. The bass sound is a warm undercurrent and Jack Ironsí drumming gels with the band even better than it did on his first album with them, No Code, creating hypnotic rhythms with just the right amount of spazziness. Above it all is Eddieís voice, still full of youthful pride and still unashamed to unleash rage, but with newfound maturity and a healthy dose of humility. For the first time on a Pearl Jam album, Vedder sang lyrics that were not his own (four of the songsí lyrics were penned by either Ament or Gossard) but you would never question that he believed in them.

Itís not as haunting as Vitalogy, not as emotional as Ten and not as contemplative as their later albums, but Yield is an equal blend of everything that has made Pearl Jam great over the years. I donít know what else to say. The album fucking rocks. If you didnít already know that, I recommend that you find out for yourself. Take a long fucking drive with it if you can.

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