Album Reviews

Pearl Jam – Gigaton – Album Review

Pearl Jam – Gigaton – Album Review
by Killian Laher

If ever we needed a new Pearl Jam album, it’s in these dark times we are enduring.  This is their first album in nearly seven years, and their eleventh album overall (excluding multiple live albums).  Pearl Jam have always been very earnest and sincere, while maintaining a little distance from mainstream rock icons such as U2, Springsteen etc.

So have Pearl Jam come creeping back into the public view?  Have they fuck!  They have toughened up their sound again after the poppier excursions of Backspacer and Lightning Bolt.  Who Ever Said is a big, swaggering rock song of the type the band do so well.  Superblood Wolfmoon follows in a similar vein, this, Never Destination and Take The Long Way are rocky tunes in the vein of an updated Do The Evolution.  The first track released from this was Dance of the Clairvoyants and this is a bit of an outlier, with its processed Nine Inch Nails percussion and synth stabs blending awkwardly with Eddie Vedder’s voice.  It doesn’t sound any less strange in the context of the album.  On the other hand, thundering Kashmir-style drums introduce the heavy stomp of Quick Escape.  Even the strange, loping guitar jangle of Buckle Up works to a degree.

Much of the more resonant material is slower, largely towards the second half of the album, with the exception of two mid-album tracks.  When Eddie Vedder stoically sings “it’s alright to be alone” on Alright, you believe him, and if it’s mid paced, chest-beating anthems you want, look no further than Seven O’Clock.  Comes Then Goes will be of major interest to anyone familiar with Eddie Vedder’s solo albums, an acoustic strum owned by a big, uplifting Vedder vocal.  He sings “cannot say how you been” which may or may not be a reference to the late Chris Cornell.  We’re on solemn, sober territory for the final two songs.  Retrograde is a radio friendly ballad along the lines of Sirens (from Lightning Bolt) that is anything but throwaway, featuring emotive guitar and a terrific Vedder vocal.  Moodiest of all is the final, funereal pump-organ trudge of River Cross, a great Pearl Jam closing track in the vein of Indifference, Parting Ways or All Or None.  Eddie Vedder sings weighty lyrics “I want this dream to last forever”, which would be quite cringey in the hands of others but he just about gets away with it.  Perhaps the Bono it’s ok to like?

If you’re a lapsed Pearl Jam fan wondering whether to bother with this, the answer is a resounding yes.  Seven years was unquestionably worth the wait for this, Pearl Jam’s best album in 20 years.

Track List 

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

Superblood Wolfmoon 

Categories: Album Reviews, Best Albums, Header, Music

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