Pearl Jam's fifth album was released on February 3, 1998 and is a slightly different and special album as the atmosphere inside and outside the house began to change...
After in 1996 Pearl Jam released the album "No Code" and failed to promote it with an impressive tour, in light of the confrontation with Ticketmaster but rather something more minimal. The band members returned to their "hometown" tired, mature and hungry going in to the mythical recording studio Studio X in Seattle.
So what has changed inside the house...?
After three commercially successful albums, the members took a step back with "No Code". over the years
Eddie Vedder has transformed from being the new kid in the bunch and the one who adapts himself to the materials written by the rest of the band, to the one who leads the writing and creation. Eddie is the one who, in addition to writing the lyrics, also composed the structure of the songs, the melody and the arrangement, as he slowly took the lead from the rest of the band. After recording the album "No Code", Eddie approached the rest of the band and told them that he was tired of leading the creation and that it was difficult for him to cope with all the stress and load that the writing lead brings with it. He asked them that in the next album everyone would already come up with prepared materials of songs and that everyone would be partners in writing and making decisions.
The band members, plus the "new" drummer Jack Irons who also featured on the previous album (and this is his latest album with the band), and producer Brendan O'Brien, all contributed to writing the materials for the album. The atmosphere was very cooperative and open, which the band members testified did not really exist in the past. Eddie openly accepted the ideas of others and worked first on their materials and only then on his. Make no mistakes, not everything was done on bed of roses, there were arguments, there was competition and there were also disagreements. This is how it is when working in a democratic way and everyone wants to express what they have in order for it to be released on the album.
There is a nice documentary called "Single Video Theory" that documents the recordings for the album where you can watch the dynamics between the band members.
So what has changed outside the house...?
From the previous album, the music industry began to change, although the album reached number one on Billboard, it dropped very quickly. At the same time, Nirvana disappeared from the scene in light of Kurt Cobain's suicide, Soundgarden releases their latest album to that dat and Alice also shrinks, with all of these giants leaving Pearl Jam alone in the turret as the last band in the Seattle grunge scene. Thus, this album came by force of energy to the first place on Billboard, but crashed very quickly.
And as Eddie said in an interview:
"We're not the same people we were five years ago. There's 'cool' and 'cynical,' which to me is dull and boring…I'm a little more positive about the whole trip now. We've had time to count some blessings. I'm in a tremendous position, being in a band and making music. I'd be an idiot not to enjoy the opportunity."
If you ask the band's fans, most of them will say that this album is a kind of return to the origins, to the style of "Ten", a rough, direct and strong rock and roll. True, there are some tracks on the album that sound like the last two albums but mostly sounds like the early 1990s Seattle.