Records: Rock

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The Independent Culture
Pearl Jam: Yield (Epic, CD/LP/tape). Having whinged for years about not wanting to be a Messiah, Eddie Vedder has finally accepted that actually, we never thought he was, and has allowed a relieved Pearl Jam to get on with being a straightforward American rock'n'roll band. And an effortless job they make of it, too.

Yield is a consistently high-class set of meaty garage-rock riffs and laid-back country-tinged melodies. The most obvious influence is Pearl Jam's godfather Neil Young, while "All Those Yesterdays" tips its hat to the Beatles, and the mostly acoustic "Low Light" would sit comfortably in REM's pastoral period.

As a whole, Yield is almost - but not quite - nourishing enough to drown out one nagging question: what have Pearl Jam got that any other straightforward American rock'n'roll band haven't, apart from Vedder's po-faced lyrics and pained mewl? As voices of a generation go, he's still got a whiny voice.