They’re still sombre, but the Manchester pop duo flirt with optimism on a fist-pumping third album
Pearl Jam Light Years(Epic)
Pearl Jam have come to occupy the corner of the American rock heartland that was R.E.M's before that group found the need to leaven the strictures of their collective conscience now and again with irony and the trappings of fame. Dependably decent and earnest, the only thing that's changed about them in ten years is their records no longer sound as overbearingly pained as they actually are. Which is obviously a good thing. The specifics of what 'Light Years' is about - the death of a friend, apparently - get subsumed into the song's plangent distillation of regret, thereby rendering it perversely uplifting, a trick only the most accomplished and sincere bands can execute with anything approaching conviction.
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