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.