Pearl Jam, The Fixer: Review

I don’t get to flex the old music review muscles that often but I figured a new Pearl Jam tune is worth it.

"The Fixer" debuted yesterday online via Pearl Jam’s MySpace page here. It’s hit 169,000 listens as of this morning. About 50 of those were me. I’m not sure that’s a resounding success but there were a lot of mentions via Twitter as well.

Does the song warrant hype at all? Not really...and hell yes! It is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Pearl Jam. It’s an enjoyable, well-written song that doesn’t ape the band’s past work, while sounding authentically like Pearl Jam. This is the band’s greatest strength. Unlike U2 who are happy to recycle “Elevation” over and over again to fuel huge world tours, Pearl Jam hasn’t hit that wall yet.

"The Fixer" is at its core, upbeat. While it shares a lot with song’s from 2006’s self-titled record like “Comatose” there is none of the anger behind “The Fixer.” Call it Obama Optimism versus the Anti-Bush anger that moves the song from start to finish.

Otherwise, the free-wheeling guitar chords — you can just picture McCready doing big windmills against the strings — perky drumming and even hand-clapping add to the happy tone. But nothing impacts the atmosphere of the song more than Vedder’s voice and lyrics. In terms of delivery the song opens with celebratory “Hey Hey’s” and then a “uh a huh” that sounds like it came straight off of the Singles Soundtrack, circa 1992.

Most takes on the song swarm around this line “When something's gone I wanna fight to get it back again,” and the chorus of“Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah,Fight to get it back again,Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” which is as ambiguous a type of call to arms if I’ve ever heard one. I’m more impressed by how Vedder makes a pretty repetitive verse structure so addictive, it’s almost like “Wishlist” in that way. 

When something's brooooke I wanna put a bit of fixing on it
If something's boooored I wanna put a little excited on it
If something's loooow I wanna put a little high on it
If something's loooost I wanna fight to get it back again

And most of all, the song is just fun. Believe it or not, there aren’t a lot of “fun” Pearl Jam songs out there. The closest might be a B-side like "Outta My Mind" or "Dirty Frank." But upbeat isn’t really the band’s strongpoint. However, "The Fixer" does it right, it does it intelligently and most of all, the song’s structure is pretty darn complex with a lot of guitar effects going on in the background.

Sonically, I think Backspacer will sound a lot like the last Pearl Jam record but in terms of tone it may be all new. And that’s what keeps the fanatics like me coming back every time.

Update: Check out the embeddable player Pearl Jam released above! Talk about good promotion!