Broadening their musical spectrums, Pearl Jam blended numerous styles into "No Code," their fourth album. After a collaboration with Neil Young, which produced "Mirror Ball" and the "Merkinball" EP, Pearl Jam got back into the studio on their own attempting to record an album equally impressive as their previous three.
Many of the styles on the album can be credited to Jack Irons, Pearl Jam's third and newest drummer, who has brought an added dimension to their song-writing skills.
Elements that make Pearl Jam what they are today are evident in heavy, alternative tunes like "Habit" and "Lukin." They also turn in a new direction with the poly-rhythms and drone guitars of "Who You Are." From "Sometimes," the album's first track, to "Mankind," sung by guitarist Stone Gossard, all of the songs are great. The two best songs are "Present Tense" and "Hail, Hail," recently played by the band on "Letterman."
Three of the tracks on "No Code" have definitely been influenced by Neil Young. "Smile," "Off He Goes," and "Around The Bend" without the presence of Eddie Vedder's vocals could easily be mistaken for some of Young's material. "Smile" was one of the releases that received heavy airplay.
It is hard to decide on this CD's rank compared to the previous three. They are all excellent collections. Alhough not too well liked by the media, I think this is a great album. The media doesn't like change, but change is what keeps a band going. Nobody wants to buy an album that sounds like all of their others. They want something fresh and new. "No Code" is a perfect example of this. Pearl Jam has continued the brilliant that they began in 1991 with the release of "Ten." If you haven't already purchased this album, I suggest you go out and buy it soon
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.