Ten – Pearl Jam – 1991
Claimed Sales: 13m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
When people think of the 90s, there are very specific distinctive sounds that come to mind. Here in the UK, BritPop made being a ‘lad’ mainstream again, dance music went underground, while over in the US the sound of grungy guitars and difficult to understand lead singers were the sound of the day. Pearl Jam were one of, if not the first band to popularize the sound and alongside Nirvana’s Nevermind, Ten is seen as one of the defining grunge albums. It’s loud, in fact the sound is brilliantly massive at times with guitar screeches with lead singer Eddie Vedder’s harsh vocal performance punching through the wall of sound on opener Once. The guitar solo on this song in particular is one of the highlights of the album, which is given enough space to breathe without being swallowed up by the otherwise thrilling crashes of drums. Singles Alive and Even Flow follow suit, both focusing on melodic and most importantly memorable hooks that call upon classic rock songs. The former of these even recalls the big rock crossover hits of the previous decade, albeit with a grungy edge. This is a band who know how to construct a song and while to some this might put them behind their maybe more adventurous peers, for me it makes Ten a much more accessible and enjoyable listen. Closer Release features some of Vedder’s more droning vocal moments, something that might have put me off more than it did, but it develops into a dreamy symphony of sound. The pace of Ten remains consistent throughout, despite the slight change of genre direction on the likes of Oceans or the hard hitting lyrics on highlight Jeremy. For me, Ten was much closer to the sort of ‘hard rock’ that I would choose to listen to than even Nevermind, Pearl Jam manage to give everything enough space to breathe here so that when things really kick into gear it’s truly a moment. One of the surprises of the series for me.
Will I listen again?: Hopefully yes.
Best Track: Definitely a toss up between Alive and Even Flow, but for me the second one just edges it out for the punchy performance the band deliver.