Pearl Jam just released their best album in years in Backspacer. It's the group's ninth studio album (though if you include all the compilations and official bootlegs, it's their nine thousandth release). The five dudes who make up Pearl Jam — singer Eddie Vedder, guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer (at least for the last decade or so) Matt Cameron — have long since figured out how to be Pearl Jam. But back in 1993, it wasn't necessarily as clear as one would think. On this day 16 years ago, the group put out Vs., the eagerly anticipated follow-up to their multiplatinum debut Ten. Just like Nirvana did with In Utero, Pearl Jam set out to pull back a bit from the sound that made them famous and get back to a more raw sound. The result was an album still stocked with melody and anthemic choruses that were buried under a heap of fuzz and left-field experiments (like the funky "Rats" and the spacey, moody "Indifference"). Unlike many of the records from the grunge era (and especially sophomore albums from that period), Vs. actually holds up as both an incredible rock record and a true statement of purpose from an evolving band.
As a way of pulling back from their extreme exposure (and as a bit of a reaction to winning the Video of the Year award for "Jeremy" at the 1992 VMAs), the band refused to make any videos to support the album, and they didn't really build anything around the singles (though "Go" was the first official single, most radio stations were playing "Animal," which wasn't officially a single until 1994). However, the deep electronic files at MTV have yielded a supremely odd promotional clip for "Daughter" (and for Vs. in general) that touts the band's marketing prowess. If that isn't the definition of irony, then nothing is.