Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mind Your Manners: The TSIS Review

4 years after Backspacer we have our first window into the sound and feel of Pearl Jam’s 10th album.    Mind Your Manners is fast and aggressive, but with a snarky punk feel rather than a reckless ferocity.  Pearl Jam can be hit or miss with these, but they drew from the right well (and thankfully stayed away from the shiny punk where they are at their weakest). You can hear its ancestors in Spin the Black Circle, Brian of J, and Comatose. The solo sounds like Ghost and Comatose got into a car crash.  The outro reproduces the call/response outro of Ole.  It all comes together nicely. This is a good song, and seems to put Backspacer behind them--or better, it takes Backspacer and drags it through the mud.

There is a heavy flatness to the start of the song, a bleakness thatthe sing songy verses push back against.  It’s a fast song, but it feels slowed down by the verses, like the vocal melody is digging its heels in against the music.   It would be interesting to see how this would have sounded if the vocals and the music were winding each other up.

The intro riff is different than anything we’ve heard from them before.  Very Motorheadish. Once the verses kick in the song feels very much like a hyrbrid of comatose and brain of J.   It’s good, but a bit familiar.  Definitely ground they’ve covered before, although they still execute well here.

The bridge, solo, and outro are all really great---the highlights of the song. Wonderful vocal melody in the bridge, some descending ominous guitars, some nice  accents underneath in the bridge (or a second chorus, since they repeat it again right before the outro). Nice Riot Act era solo underneath the outro (where Mike seems to try and work in every trick they didn’t let him use on backspacer), and they return to that interesting layered call and response bit they did at the end of Ole (easily the highlight of that song).   actually for a song clocking in under 3 minutes it goes to more places than you’d expect.   

Really if not for the fact that the verse and chorus sound a bit familiar the music this would be top notch all the way through.  As is it’s still good.

Eddie reins himself in. There is a nice scream at the very end of the song, and  there is more growl and low end than we’ve gotten in a while (he sounds good), and he moves away from the shrieking that turned people off on S/T and Backspacer. He sounds angry, but it’s a sarcastic anger, rather than fangs going for the jugular.   He sounds good and is working well with his voice, but  I wonder if they could have pushed further.

I guess that’s a question that will need to be answered in the context of the album.  There’s anger, and the song rails against the frustration of the last few years--the failed promises and unmet expectations.  And while there are moments of a primal scream scratching their way to the surface  they don’t break through.  The sarcasm undercuts the rage.  This could easily have gone the other way.  How MYM fits in with the rest of the songs as a whole will reveal whether or not they made the right choice.

Since we don’t have lyrics I can’t really comment on them, but it certainly seems to be about moral hypocrisy, and so the snarky punk vibe seems appropriate to it.  No lyrics really jumped out either way yet.   The bridge sounds like it has good lyrics, and I do like the “Good Heavens/That’s Right/How Do You Like Your/Living Hell” at the end.  Not necessarily a great lyric on its own, but it sounds really good with the broken chorus delivery.

Overall, I really like it. It’s a good song.  It has the rawness of S/T with some of the hooks of Backspacer.  I’m not sure this is going to be an all time classic, but it has me primed and excited for the next album.