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Piece by Piece – Ten

Released on August 27, 1991, Pearl Jam’s “Ten” would set a new standard in the rock industry. The album is disputed as being contemporary grunge, but it features more classic or hard rock instrumentals than grunge.

“Ten” would start off a little rough, but slowly grow in popularity thanks to the hit singles “Jeremy,” “Even Flow,” and “Alive.” The album is reviewed as one of the best hard rock albums ever, but it wasn’t always like that. It had mixed reviews among popular outlets, with Rolling Stone music critic David Frick praising it and others such as Kurt Cobain calling the songs “commercial sellouts.” These days, the album is received a lot better and has aged very well.

The theme of this album is actually quite sad and depressing. It features themes of depression, homelessness, talks about suicide, and mentions the use of psychiatric hospitals.

I personally have high regard a few of the songs in this album, and after going through it I found myself with even more respect for it. Most of the songs are hits and never get boring. The album cover has two versions, the CD version and vinyl version.

This is the CD version, which is more zoomed in on “Pearl Jam”

The first song, “Once,” starts off with this odd, 70’s electric piano-sounding instrumental that builds up to the typical sound of the album. “Once” has similar instrumentals to “Even Flow” which would make sense, as the next song in the album is “Even Flow.” Overall, I don’t mind it, but it’s definitely not the best song in the album. It’s a solid start though.

“Even Flow” is one of the highlights of this album, but I personally enjoy “Black” a little more. On the popularity side of this album, this song takes the cake. This song is about homelessness, which goes along with the theme of this album. It’s an amazing song with good vocals and instrumentals and doesn’t miss a beat with keeping my attention.

“Alive” is “Even Flow’s” more complex, emotional cousin. The song often goes from rushing, fast-paced noises and instrumentals, to slower, more defined choruses. Definitely a super rememberable song and a highlight of the album.

Just a couple songs down is “Black.” This right here is the pinnacle of this entire album (in my opinion). The vocals and emotion put into this song are outstanding. It’s not too fast, with the slower instrumentals being a nice refresher. This song is in my top 10 favorite songs, which is well deserved. If you’re going to listen to any song on the album, it should be this one.

This version is more popular with its vinyl release

“Jeremy” is based on an article in a newspaper that Eddie Vedder read, which talks about a young man, Jeremy Delle, killing himself in front of his class. The song also takes inspiration from when Vedder was in school, and a student there shot up his oceanography class. This song is probably the saddest and/or darkest in the album. Its instrumentals are very good, the vocals are clear, but it’s quite depressing.

Now, the last song in the album. “Release” is a slow, thoughtful song. Its sound is pretty different to the rest of the album. The song also connects with the first song (“Once”) and is a great way to end the album.

At first, I was only into about one or two songs. But after going through this entire album, I fell in love with it. I give this album an 8/10 on the Sweet Sounds Scale.

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About the Contributor
Micah Steffens
Micah Steffens, Staff Writer
Micah Steffens is a 16 year old sophomore who enjoys music, the outdoors, and food. His favorite hobby is listening to music, and he's a fan of bands such as Weezer, Pearl Jam, and Green Day. Micah has 5 other brothers and 2 dogs. He enjoys talking to people and listening to everyone’s opinion, as everyone has a right to one. He enjoys shows such as Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Micah does sports such as golf and trapshooting. He hopes to pursue engineering after high school.
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