This band has evolved, shifting from unmitigated misery to burgeoning optimism. Lead singer Eddie Vedder talks about how great life is (“In My Tree”), even “when the sun don’t shine” (“Smile”). “Hail Hail” acknowledges the value of close relationships. On “Sometimes,” Vedder ponders his place in the world, reverently pointing to God as the omnipotent guide (“You’re God and you got big hands/The challenges you give me/Seek my part, devote myself/My small self-like a book amongst the many on a shelf”). He also urges fans to forget about past mistakes and move on (“Present Tense”), while cautioning them to consider the consequences of dangerous behavior (“Habit”). Some really good themes here.
Harsh language (including an occasional f-word) mars “Off He Goes,” “Who You Are” and “Lukin.” Though vague, lines on “I’m Open” and “Present Tense” convey dubious philosophies reminiscent of New Age.
Since storming onto the pop scene in 1992, this band has elevated angst, despair and bellyaching to an artform (Ten, Vs. and Vitalogy). But not here. No Code is surprisingly upbeat. Sadly, the noted caveats prohibit an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but this is a step in the right direction for Vedder and Co.