Pearl Jam -- _Yield_ (Epic, 1998)

Some of us wondered if Pearl Jam would ever be a rock band again. Yes, technically, their previous two albums (_Vitalogy_ and _No Code_) were rock albums, but not the sort of unshakable rock foundation with which Pearl Jam established themselves. Our answer has arrived in _Yield_, a convincing return to form that should only serve to solidify their reputation and ensure their position as one of the '90s top rock bands.

_Yield_ recaptures the energy and range of the group's first #1 album, _vs._, and we can expect to hear its tracks on the radio throughout 1998. The unflinching opener "Brain Of J" and the ragged-edged stomp "Do The Evolution" careen along in classic Pearl Jam fashion. Gentler numbers such as "Wishlist" and straight-on grabbers like "MFC" are exactly the sort of melodic winners that made _vs._ such a success. And "Given To Fly" is a great single, no matter how much Led Zeppelin influence there may happen to be. _Yield_ even has some reminders of their more experimental past (and future, no doubt), as if determined to let no facet of their music go unrepresented.

While certainly not reverting to the production polish of their debut album, _Ten_, Pearl Jam's latest is an energized return, in many ways a recap of the musical ground they've covered so far. A welcome re-introduction to their prowess for old fans and a welcome introduction for new arrivals, _Yield_ is unrelenting if unsurprising, satisfying fans as the Pearl Jam juggernaut rolls unstoppably along.


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