Their strongest album in a long time

Pearl Jam and I agreed to go our separate ways a long time ago due to musical differences. 

This doesn’t mean that I haven’t gone back and listened to every new release, but with the exception of the Backspacer album, nothing has ever struck a musical chord like their first four releases.  From there they seemed to relax into something that just never fed the musical hunger that drives me to find new and different bands while trying to find a balance that means I selfishly enjoy everything old.  Lucky for me, my small job here in Castle LOUD allows me to always hear something new, if I so choose.

So, here I am, something new that I know is actually old but feels so comfortable to slip into.  Openers Whoever Said and Superblood Wolfmoon are both rollicking and rolling traditional American rock tracks that bring back memories of a band that was hungry to prove itself as different in the swamp of 90s grunge rock. Pearl Jam has always been about musical light and shade, and the first sign of this here is the electro-tinged rocker Dance of the Clairvoyants but really begins to turns on following track Quick Escape, held together with a groove driven bass line and ending on some great guitar work that shows the band still has plenty of rock hidden away in the cupboard somewhere. Getting through a couple of slower tracks, the rock is welcomed back with the loose Never Destination as Pearl Jam reach into their early punk fandom, confronting the issue of the leadership of the US. It’s a great thing to hear Eddie Vedder once again letting out some of the angst that made his voice unique.

From here, the band relax into a confident mix of styles from the rockier to more freeform stuff like Buckle Up,  relaxed and acoustic while also carrying a calming rock groove.  That may well be the best way to sum up the parts that comprise this album: angry and lyrically dark, while striving to shine a positive light on everything, perhaps best exemplified on the acoustic ballad Comes Then Goes, dedicated in some small part to their dear friend Chris Cornell.

Gigaton will be deservedly touted as the strongest Pearl Jam album in a long time.  The last time they created something nearly as cohesive was the more reflective Backspacer in 2009. Before that, there wasn’t really an album packed with this much punch and bite since at least 1996.  If Pearl Jam has really found a purple patch, I hope they knuckle down and get another album like this released sooner rather than later.

 

  1. Who Ever Said
  2. Superblood Wolfmoon
  3. Dance of the Clairvoyants
  4. Quick Escape
  5. Alright
  6. Seven O’Clock
  7. Never Destination
  8. Take the Long Way
  9. Buckle Up
  10. Comes Then Goes
  11. Retrograde
  12. River Cross