Help Help

Even as someone who has long been a cheerleader for Pearl Jam’s stranger tracks, I find “Help Help” to be an exceedingly difficult listen — and on an album of 15 tracks, with plenty of official and rumored material leftover from the sessions, I have a hard time playing devil’s advocate for its inclusion. Jeff Ament is definitely the Pearl Jam member most responsible for the band’s truly quirky side. Although Vedder’s off-road excursions are plenty, they tend to stick at least fairly close to established paths in pop, world, and even country music. Ament, however, has cultivated a tendency toward the bizarre, though mostly admirably so. Even “Help Help”, which always itches my “skipping” finger, is fairly respectable as an attempt to expand the band’s sound in unpredictable ways. The problem is it just isn’t a pleasurable listen.

Part of the faults rests with the sluggish tempo and performance by the band. The song received a natural slight energy boost for the few times it’s been played live, but the lethargy still seems coded in the song’s DNA. It’s clearly a difficult song for Vedder to sing, as his melody is a string of uninteresting notes seemingly plucked randomly from an odd tuning. His vocals on record are given heavy, underwater-sounding processing, as well as a higher-pitched double, which succeeds in its suspected aim of unnerving the listener only too well. The crunch of the band’s guitar attack on the chorus is somewhat more satisfying, though it feels mismatched with the verses, creating a Frankenstein’s monster of a song that no one, including the band, seems overly fond of.

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~ by Michael on May 31, 2007.

6 Responses to “Help Help”

  1. In my opinion this song is the worst PJ song ever. I always skip it when I listen to Riot Act. A very bad song…

  2. I agree with C13 that the song is slightly better live than on the album. That said, I just can’t get into it that much. I still think that 1/2 Full is worse, but Help Help does absolutely nothing for me… much like Riot Act in general.

  3. Huh. I actually like Help, Help a little bit. But then again, I like quirky.

  4. I have met people who actually love this song, so I do listen to it once in a while thinking that maybe I missed something. I wouldn’t be upset if they retired this one from live shows. Unlike everyone else, I don’t feel that the live performances are an improvement.

  5. I don’t love it, don’t hate it. I’m indifferent.

  6. C13 – “His vocals on record are given heavy, underwater-sounding processing, as well as a higher-pitched double”

    That higher pitched double was Ed singing through a vocoder that they were experimenting with.

    Here is some info on the Vocoder.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocoders

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