Let's forget Ten, Vitaology, and the five other albums we've already omitted from the mind - you hardcore fans excluded. Let's rate this album on its own merit; a thinly veiled stab at the Bush administration via the medium of classic American rock and spiked punk-grunge. Hardly the height of originality, but it works. Half the time it's a feat to decipher Vedder's lyrics but thankfully half the time they're not necessary. His distinctive voice carries every song - 'Comatose' being the perfect example where he morphs into a clenched teeth screeching Brian Johnson with soul. The majority of the album is fuelled with caustic crescendo and arena drums until you land on 'Parachutes'; a beautifully sombre little gem sat in the middle of the track listing which bows to the Beatles. A testimony to their underused versatility. They also slow it down nicely for the 53 Primal Scream seconds of 'Wasted Reprieve'. Another band might have left this for the last track on the album, but that would have appeared corny. Not very Pearl Jam. Instead we're treated to three songs that evoke the vision of hoards of people in a field with arms raised in a V (apologies) with fuzzy summer air running through their fingers - perfect festival material (instead you'll have to make do with the confines of the Point).Would this album be as talked about had it not been for the publicity train helmed by J Records that Pearl Jam boarded characteristically under duress? Charged with a raw venom for war, separation and corporate mentalities, while on the cusp of being midlife crisis candidates, they have given their new record label a heartfelt album. Based on its own merit - would it have garnered them a new listenership? Doubtful. Are their existing fans satisfied? Debatable. All I can say is - give it your time, it's a grower.