VS.

Huh. A second album. Let’s see what else you had to record in the back of the bin. What else you have to say.

Go
We start at a thousand miles, the pace of a band that has been touring, the pace of light posts passing over a car, a bus, below planes, carrying electricity and energy right up to the stage where the guitars get plugged into. “Please.” Something begging here in this song. Begging the muse to let the rocker keep rocking. Begging the lighter to last one more cigarette. Begging your heart to keep beating, your fans to keep listening, your third eye to stay open despite what you have seen. Stay with me.

Animal
A riff to open this that we have heard before. An homage to oneself? A cover? An extension? Something more to say? “I’d rather be with an animal.” Than what? It feels like Eddie wants to hide, that he wants the band elevated, that he is teasing the critics. The industry. “What? You wanted it to sound familiar? Like our last album? Fuck you. Here you go. Sell this.” Tongue and cheek. Inviting your audience in…. pushing everyone else away.

Daughter
Back to the acoustic riff. Such standard rock here. But Vedder takes the opportunity to say something. If we are going to walk in the middle of the street we are at least going to say something to the passersby. What does it take to be fit to be called daughter? What is a daughter’s place in the world? Again it feels like at some point in the song the lyrics are just going to repeat and run, the music has said all we will say and now it must play out for three and a half minutes. The radio requires. Ok, we’ve done our work. Now, can we get back to being a band.

Glorified G
And now we can rally against the things holding us back as a people, now that we have fed the beast. Take this. The start here feels fresh. Fresh, and a parody of someone feeling like a man because they own a gun. The guitars are playing in unison with the drums. All very standard. We are not angry. There is no dissonance between owning a piece and the damage 300 million pieces cause in society. It all makes perfect sense. But it’s silly, right? We are not, indeed, a nation of glorified G’s. It’s Weird Al in reverse.

Dissident
Hold on. Interruption. This album is not, musically, lyrically, nearly as interesting as Ten. And that may be the sheer depth of the cutting into skin that was the first. Or it could be me with too much perspective. But here, finally, five songs in, it feels like Eddie found something meaningful to say. And there is some more dissonant guitaring (no pun intended) going on. “Escape is never the safest.” The early part of the album felt like running away, or thumbing their collective nose.

W.M.A.
So here the band can explore. The drums have take over. The repetitive beat on the head driving the action. Calling out African rhythms to talk about privilege. A dig at the band and themselves, and me. Another dig at success, knowing part of it has to do with the lottery of genetics and society. Something in the middle that sounds at once like soldiers marching and dogs barking. The rhythmic thump thumping on our heads the entire time we are present in this present society. Fading out and in unfading.

Blood
Ok. Eddie’s done fucking around. The band is done fucking around. This is Samuel L. Jackson standing in the window of the Negotiator. “You want my blood?” The bass is thundering off in one direction, the lead is barreling off in another. Ed is just grinding his voice into oblivion. Except for that one line. I feel like this whole album is a hurt child trying to push everyone and everything away. Only the voices in my head get to stay.

Rearviewmirror
Updated 50s rock. Springsteen’s cars through New Jersey. Another call back to Ten. Was this recorded under some contract the band wanted out of? Pushed into the studio before they were necessary? Dear recording industry, would you like a history of late 20th century American rock disguised as a sophomore effort? Or a sophomoric effort? If you are going to rush us, we will make an art school project. A rock record, in theory.

Rats
Someone’s been going to see Soul Coughing shows… so now, instead of making fun of where rock has been, let’s make fun of where it is going. I am not sure if this is co-opting, or parody, or an attempt at leadership, at bringing something new into existence. It certainly feels like making music begrudingly, under duress. Most of this album feels like a hostage situation.

Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
There is something I love about the rolling fun of songs in 6/8 time. It’s not a car going down the highway, nor a boulder down the side of a mountain. This continues my perception of the album, as a band doing a parody of itself for the purpose of making fun of the carnival around them, a way to make fun of the people who are bandwagoning them, while stating in the middle, “I changed by not changing.” Don’t worry, our popularity will fade… fade… away.

Leash
Let’s hit this one big. We are getting near the end here. Let’s make an easy song, and then a very hard one to love. Let the radio figure out what the hits are. And only the true messiahs will hear this one as being the soul of the record. It’s one thing to love someone who is looking to be loved. Quite another to love someone saying, “get out of my fucking face.” Our are we making fun of Extreme, and other such bands?

Indifference
Euro synth-rock. Gen-X canvas. I know what you want of me and that is the last thing I will give you. I won’t fix it. I won’t be your voice. I won’t be your ally. I will sit here just being myself, and you can love me, or you can leave me. No difference. It’s not a dream or fantasy. It’s not a puzzle with a solution. It’s just a bunch of shattered pieces of something that used to fit together, now disjunct and broken, and unredeemable.

What would you do? If you had no interest in being “the man” and were thrust into the light? Would you dance for your change? Would you take the glam and the bjs? Would you rise above? Or simply go home? Would you fulfill your contractual obligations hoping to someday, once again, be free?

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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