This Day in 1996, Pearl Jam went to No.1 on the US album chart with 'No Code'.
No Code is the fourth studio album by the American alternative rock band Pearl Jam, released on August 27, 1996 through Epic Records. Following a troubled tour for its previous album, Vitalogy (1994), in which Pearl Jam engaged in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster, the band went into the studio to record its follow-up. The music on the record was more diverse than what the band had done on previous releases, incorporating elements ofgarage rock, worldbeat, psychedelia, and experimentalism.
Although No Code debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, it left a large section of the band’s fanbase unsatisfied and quickly fell down the charts. Critical reviews were also mixed, with praise to the musical variety but the album being considered inconsistent. The album became the first Pearl Jam album to not reach multi-platinum status, receiving a single platinum certification by the RIAA in the United States.
No Code sold 366,500 copies in its first week of release, topping the Billboard 200, but falling short of analysts' predictions of at least 535,000 copies. This was significantly less than what the band's previous two albums sold in their respective first weeks of release. It was, however, the seventh biggest-selling debut of what was a slow year for the industry.It stayed at number one for two weeks, and was Pearl Jam's last album to debut at number one on the album chart until Backspacer was released in 2009. No Code was the band's first album to not reach multi-platinum status, being certified platinum by the RIAA,and, as of 2003, has sold 1.3 million copies in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Three singles were released from No Code. The lead single "Who You Are" peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number one on the Modern Rock charts and number five on the Mainstream Rock charts. Neither of the album's other singles, "Hail, Hail" and "Off He Goes", charted on the Hot 100, but both placed on the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts, as did album track "Red Mosquito".
Upon its release, No Code received a mixed critical reception. Rolling Stone staff writer David Fricke gave No Code four out of five stars, saying that the album "is abrupt in its mood swings almost to the point of vertigo." He praised the album as "the kind of impulsive, quixotic, provocative ruckus that has become rare in a modern-rock mainstream" and added that "No Code basically means no rule books, no limits and, above all, no fear." Q gave the album four out of five stars. The review said that the album "constantly adds unexpected and facinating [sic] details.A solid attraction amid intriguing oddities is the powerful array of guitar sounds." Critic Robert Christgaudescribed the album as "slowly winning a heartwarming battle against constitutional melancholia."Allmusic staff writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album three and a half out of five stars, saying, "While a bit too incoherent, No Code is Pearl Jam's richest and most rewarding album to date as well as their most human." NME gave No Code a seven out of ten. In the review, it is stated that "Vedder is still preoccupied with his own mortality, but now he appears more quasi-mystical than miserable for all its relative placidity, No Code is still a difficult beast."
Referring to the songs on the album, Jon Pareles of The New York Times said "about half are worth the effort." He observed that "too often, [Vedder] falls into American culture's Disney syndrome, idealizing childhood innocence above all." David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a C, saying that while No Code "cracks open their sound," it "becomes a collection of fragments that don't add up to much of anything, except a portrait of a musically disjointed band." On the change in mood compared with the band’s previous releases, he said that "the album leaves you with the vaguely unsettling feeling that Pearl Jam without pain are like a pretzel without salt, or Seattle without rain." Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork Media called it "a nice listen," but stated that "there's a ton of filler here. In fact, it's almost all filler."Time reviewer Christopher John Farley said that the album "makes it sound as if they're having a midlife crisis." Farley added that "too few of the songs on the Pearl Jam CD explore the musical possibilities they suggest in any kind of definitive or provocative manner.