It's a strange feeling looking at pictures of a band growing older and then realising that you're growing older with them. A bit of time spent with 'Backspacer', however, will convince you of its wrinkle-reducing properties and the power of power chords and gentle introspection to pull you out of couch-loving slackness.

Like its self-titled 2006 predecessor, this sounds like an album the quintet had fun making, the difference here is that the tracks are more memorable. In 'The Fixer', Pearl Jam have one of the catchiest songs in their 19-year history and in 'Just Breathe' and 'Speed of Sound', which recall singer Eddie Vedder's work on the 'Into the Wild' soundtrack, two of their best.

It may have been a strange feeling for longtime fans to see 'Backspacer' connecting with the press and punters so strongly, given that Pearl Jam have received less attention for some great work - 2000's 'Binaural' and 2002's 'Riot Act' - in the past. But this record is very good at getting rid of grumbles, whatever they may be.

Harry Guerin