Of all the bands to emerge from the early '90s grunge explosion, Pearl Jam was both the longest-lived and most consistently interesting. After several albums that found the group taking an increasingly experimental direction, the Seattle quintet returned to its straight-ahead hard rock roots with 2006's self-titled effort. In 2009 however, Pearl Jam surprised fans again with an album containing some of the unit's catchiest, poppiest songs ever. According to lead vocalist Eddie Vedder, most of the new material was written prior to recording, which was a significant departure from the group's usual in-studio jamming method of composition. The result is one of the unit's most focused and accessible works since the debut album TEN. The first single "The Fixer" (written my drummer Matt Cameron) is a Kiss-like bit of straight-up pop masquerading as hard rock, while "Just Breathe" is melancholy acoustic singer-songwriter music so sharply crafted it would fit well on an Jack Johnson album. Throughout, Pearl Jam performs with its trademark directness, mustering the kind of earthy, cohesive sound that only veteran bands can deliver.