Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Pearl Jam: Vitalogy [Epic, 1994]
Eddie Vedder's struggles with stardom have a concreteness missing from more mythic epics of resistance. But it isn't his MTV boycott or TicketMaster stand that make his third album his best--it's his need to live up to Kurt's musical example and expiate Kurt's mythic pain. Three or four of these songs are faster and riffier than anything else in P. Jam's book, token experiments like "Bugs" are genuinely weird, and in an era of compulsory irony his sincerity is something like a relief--a Kurtlike relief at that. A-