No Code Epic, 1996
Pearl Jam’s fascinating, occasionally brilliant fourth album sounds like nothing they made before or since. Recorded against a backdrop of intra-band turmoil – Vedder had reportedly wrested artistic control – its default setting was low-key. But ‘quiet’ didn’t necessarily mean ‘bad’. Opener Sometimes and the Afro-beat-tinged Who You Are exuded calm beauty, while the furious Hail, Hail proved they could still crank it up.
No Code baffled many who’d bought Ten and Vs., and the band’s sales took a downturn. For Pearl Jam, though, that counted as a victory.