Pearl Jam's fifth full-length recording seems to cover familiar territory -- sparse rock songs are mixed with stabs at punk nostalgia, and Eddie Vedder's vocals are often strained to the breaking point, straying into soulful wavering and falsetto dips instead of the emotive power of the band's early releases.
Pearl Jam isn't out of steam, but perhaps they are tired of the backlash and expectations projected on them by a fickle music industry and turncoat press. The characteristic humanism of their previous work remains, but one wonders why they don't take their built-in audience on a boundary-stretching ride in new experimental directions after guitarist Stone Gossard's retreat to the melancholia of his side-band Brad, and Vedder's brush with the late Pakistani vocalist Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan.
While "Yield" breaks no new ground, subtle nuances float to the surface. "Brain of J" sounds like a souped-up Dinosaur Jr., while "Faithful" fulfills anthemic anticipations. It's on the exotic hidden track at the end of "All Those Yesterdays" that the band's unmined potential is hinted at.