I haven’t written much about the album itself, because up to now I wasn’t really supposed to, but also because I’m not much good at writing about music. But I absolutely love this album. Of course, I’ve been living with this music for eight or nine months, since Eddie Vedder sent me an early demo disk with about 3/4 of the songs from the album (and one that didn’t make the final cut), and then the final mix with all the songs a few months later. All I can say is, I haven’t grown tired of it yet. And from what I’ve seen, the early reviews are overwhelmingly positive, like this one from Spin:
“Gonna See My Friend,” “Got Some,” and “The Fixer” nearly upend each other rushing out the gate, exploiting Pearl Jamâ€™s leanest, punkest tendencies. And those traits carry through the albumâ€™s 36 minutes. No time to waste and Obama in the White House mean no political bellyaching, so when Eddie Vedder pulls out that indignant yet inclusive snarl and proclaims, “When somethingâ€™s gone, I wanna fight to get it back again,” you can probably assume “it” is his bandâ€™s mojo.
Even the requisite restrained ballads feel renewed: “The End” finds Vedder channeling Cat Stevens, backed by a string and brass ensemble. Then thereâ€™s the towering anthem â€œAmongst the Waves,â€ which could bring “Alive” fans back to the fold. It even expands on that songâ€™s theme, moving from grudging survival to jubilant exuberance (“Iâ€™ve put away my early grave”). For the first time in years, Pearl Jam are seizing the moment rather than wallowing in it.
Speaking of Spin, their current issue has three different Pearl Jam covers. The subscriber edition features art by yours truly. If you’re not a subscriber I have no idea how you can get ahold of that one, but the same art is also featured on a special poster insert in all three editions.
Also: with the album “dropping” (as we music industry insiders say), and the band about to go on tour, PJ’s management has more important things to do than worry about whether or not I’ve seen every single usage of the art. So if you see it in some weird place, let me know, and snap a picture if you can. As I said to one interviewer recently, my usual relationship to my art is that of a parent to a small child — you keep an eye on them, you know what they’re up to all the time. This is more like what I imagine a parent’s relationship to grown children must be like — they go out in the world and do all these amazing things on their own, and you kind of watch from a distance, trying to keep track of it all.