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Pearl Jam 

Backspacer (Universal)

Pearl Jam has built a fanatically loyal following on the backs of legendary live shows and great public relations, but the past three records haven't sustained the quality of its first decade. Things are better here: "The Fixer" marries The Cars and Tom Petty to excellent effect, while "Just Breathe" is a gorgeous little number that might have fallen off Eddie Vedder's soundtrack for Into the Wild. And all "Supersonic" needs is a summer day and a convertible. The rest of it is recognizably good, though the band still doesn't quite match the dynamic, epic thrill of its best work.

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Vol 24, No 27
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