Only a year after Vs., Vitalogy marks a huge step forward for Pearl Jam. Vitalogy continues the musical intensity of Vs., but the faster songs are more rooted in punk than anything they’d done previously, while the ballads are more intricate and interesting than their previous efforts.
But as well as the actual songs which are much more consistent and more varied than those on their previous albums, they also included four experimental pieces on Vitalogy, from Vedder’s accordion showcase ‘Bugs’, to world music on ‘Aye Davanita’ and sound collage on ‘Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me’; while they’re interesting, they don’t stand up to repeated listening especially well, and they disrupt the flow of the album. But the full songs are very solid; live staple ‘Corduroy’ is a catchy riff rocker, ‘Immortality’ and ‘Nothing Man’ are gorgeous, while ‘Tremor Christ’ and ‘Not For You’ are fast and aggressive.
Pearl Jam lost plenty of fans with the more experimental pieces on Vitalogy, but it’s far more significant that they matured for the rest of the album.