Just a little time before we leave
March 7, 2018 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Pearl Jam's fourth album, 1996's No Code, could be described as "the sound of five men chopping down The Grunge Tree". [YT playlist, ~50m] Perhaps more of an extended tone poem than anything else, it is introspective, poetic, rocking, sensitive, philosophical.... Mostly it is not at all Ten, Vs., or Vitalogy. And it is possibly the connective tissue between their overwhelmingly strong debut years and their ability to have survived for nearly three decades. Side One: Sometimes; Hail, Hail; Who You Are; In My Tree, Smile, Off He Goes

Side Two: Habit, Red Mosquito, Lukin, Present Tense, Mankind, I'm Open, Around The Bend

Bonus (packaging) information: The album comes with one of four possible sets of 9 Poloroid shots, (C, O, D, E) in the packaging. (Except the cassette version which had multiple packages each with a different shot as the main cover image.) Also, the 4-way fold-out packaging, when laid out and viewed from a distance created the image of the "eye in a triangle" which is the symbol for No Code.
posted by hippybear (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Impossible for me to not be nostalgic about this: 1996 is the year I discovered Pearl Jam; dreadfully late and uncool at the time. Somehow my least favorite album, I think, but loaded with songs I love. I realize just reading the names of these songs reminds me of how the town smelled where I first heard them. Isn't that odd? Usually it's smell that triggers memories, not the other way around.

1996 was when I went to college and started discovering all sorts of things about people, and the world. I'd seen the internet before but that was when it became a place for me. I felt like a traveler among a universe of all the thoughts held by all the people throughout all of time. So when they wanted a username, there was only one choice and it's still my name online decades hence.

And I still come back to Pearl Jam, because who doesn't gravitate to the music of that particular time of their life whenever it exactly happens and whoever it exactly is?

(Favorite album? Impossible. But maybe Yield, which was the first one I bought specifically because it was Pearl Jam and I knew that's what I wanted.)
posted by traveler_ at 9:52 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]

My nuclear family and I eat out more than we should, for complex reasons, despite both parents being good cooks. The restaurant tonight had soft alternative on the speakers, most of it from the 90s. Soft Rock, only cool. How is this a thing? I needed to take a temperature check. Backstreet Boys? Still objectively terrible. Take the bus like one of us? Still objectively cool. I think. I dunno, the 90's were like the sixties if the sixties didn't take itself so seriously.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:02 PM on March 7

Perhaps listening to this would succor your soul, Slap*Happy. :)
posted by hippybear at 10:04 PM on March 7

I mean, Eddy Vetter had this single in the aughts, and it was like he never stopped with the grunge stuff, and it blew everything else on the air at the time clean out of the water. On the one hand, it's nice to be eternally relevant, on the other hand, I want the kids to be doing their own incomprehensibly strange thing. I want to yell at someone to get off my lawn, just so I know we're moving forward...
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:28 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]

Backspacer is underrated.
posted by ELF Radio at 2:23 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]

I want to yell at someone to get off my lawn, just so I know we're moving forward...

As long as most lawns are being yelled about, I think the kids are all right.

Besides, Millennials can’t afford lawns, and Z+ won’t have them due to global climate change and the inevitable water wars/Mad Max future. Once again, the Gen X Apathy-Heavy Portfolio pays off!
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:36 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]

Pretty much all of Pearl Jam's post-Vitalogy catalog is underrated (and honestly, Vitalogy itself is probably a little underrated too). Grunge stopped being cool a little after Vitalogy came out, and people stopped paying attention and started thinking of Pearl Jam as relic of an earlier time, and that's probably the best thing that could have happened to the band. Freed from commercial pressure, but with a guaranteed audience, they could make interesting music for themselves. It's a situation not many bands find themselves in, and they've handled it quite well.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:37 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]

Hippybear, you know my love of this band and esp this album. Its number 2, beat only by a hair the magic that is "Its A Shame About Ray" by the Lemonheads, on my Desert Island Disc list. The way the track list swings between quiet and rocking, it truly was a document of the band at the time, the album that almost broke the band up, but in the end I think brought them closer together too. It let them realize that they could have their own styles, and if they needed to go do solo stuff they could. The other guys would still be there when they got back.

and "In My Tree" is the best pearl jam song ever….well maybe "Porch"
posted by ShawnString at 6:44 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]

..0:44 seconds into "Sometimes" now....please do something other than the hackneyed get loud for contrast at the chorus thing....just for once....holy shit, they didn't
posted by thelonius at 6:52 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Backspacer is underrated.
Isn't Backspacer actually the album where Pearl Jam cut down the grunge tree? I mean the biggest single off that album, The Fixer, was a powerpop song. Plenty of tracks on No Code are still 'grunge', including all the singles.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:52 AM on March 8

this is the album where I realised I had completely different tastes from my then-friends. They found this album unpalatable apart from the big hits; I liked nearly all of it (at the time) and found it more interesting. Yield, the album that Pearl Jam put out after this, was a big disappointment to me, as it seemed to be made of a lot of plodding rock bangers - however, since then, the band has turned into one of those ongoing 'Rolling Stones' style stadium beasts, that keep a lot of people paid.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:18 AM on March 8

I prefer their non-grungy stuff. Present Tense off of this album is awesome. Breathe (Backspacer?) is probably my favourite song of theirs.


That's all I have to say, I guess.
posted by ashbury at 8:32 AM on March 8

When I reminisce about PJ I am reminded of happy, simpler times. I always loved how positive this music was. Even when their peers a la Alice In Chains and Soundgarden and Nirvana were always known for being angry or self loathing.

Ps Long time reader first time comment. Sometimes all it takes is a little early 90s nostalgia! Hello everyone.
posted by Dillionaire at 2:50 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]

Welcome, Dillionaire!
posted by ashbury at 10:46 PM on March 8

Pretty much all of Pearl Jam's post-Vitalogy catalog is underrated

posted by eustacescrubb at 2:06 PM on March 9

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