Back in Pearl Jam's '90s heyday, frontman Eddie Vedder eschewed the machinery of the music industry; he refused to make videos, conduct interviews or participate in commonplace publicity chores that are on the to-do lists of virtually every successful pop performer. But when the Jammers' CDs stopped selling in big numbers and its longtime label, Sony, ran out of patience, Vedder decided to re-engage with the world. The group called its first disc for J Records Pearl Jam, an obvious slate-cleaning move; released a video for the lead track, "Life Wasted"; agreed to play a subordinate role on its current tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; and effected a rapprochement with the press, which explains Vedder's presence on the cover of the current Rolling Stone. Granted, the new album doesn't break new ground, or even dent it. Still, the long-player's got some decent melodies (a characteristic in short supply of late), and the overtly Lennon-esque ballad "Parachutes" suggests that Vedder is finally, finally starting to get over himself. Welcome back to the music industry, Eddie.
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