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Pearl Jam's `Yield' shows balance and sophistication

Well, Pearl Jam has finally broken its self-imposed silence and come out of exile.

Salt Lake fans who last remembered how exciting the show was (when the band finally rescheduled at the Delta Center back in November 1995) will undoubtedly welcome this album with open mouths, arms and ears.The rumor is "Yield" is reminiscent of Pearl Jam's debut album, "Ten."

Well, that's half right. There are other folky, moody tunes that bring to mind the band's last album, "No Code." Then a couple of tracks capitalize on the band's knack for experimental runs that can be found on every album.

In other words, while some so-called music fans and critics are saying "Yield" is coming out too late to make a significant mark on today's music scene, the album is musically balanced and something Pearl Jam, a band based in Seattle, should be proud of.

Also, don't let the foldout Pink Floyd-like cover throw you off. There's no progressive, spacey rock stuff here.

It might not sell the tens of millions "Ten" did. And it probably will surpass the numbers "No Code" reached. But regardless of sales, the music here is strong. Extremely strong.

Even the first single "Given To Fly" - which to some may sound like Led Zeppelin's "Going to California," a segment of Rush's "2112" epic or Tori Amos' "Silent All These Years" - contains a threatening subtlety that is Pearl Jam's trademark.

Opening with the punk head nod "Brain of J." and ending with a hidden Tango track, "Yield" latches on to the ears and won't let go.

The continuing punklike attitude can be found in "Do the Evolution," which gives nod to Lou Reed. Then there's the melancholic, dark-corner croons such as "Wishlist" and "Low Light," written by bassist Jeff Ament.

As for the experimental tracks, there's a tunneling jam with spoken words called "Push Me Pull Me," and a percussion work that is denoted by a red dot that distorts singer Eddie Vedder's voice.

"Yield" is Pearl Jam's most balanced and sophisticated album. With compadre Brendan O'Brien as producer, Pearl Jam manages to stay where it's always been - between punk and mainstream metal.