It is incredible to wake up one day and realize a band you grew up listening to since their first album is now celebrating their 30th anniversary. For the many Rock fans coming to this realization, that band is Pearl Jam. And wow! Yes, in 2020 Pearl Jam are celebrating 30 years since forming in 1990 just one year before releasing their debut album, Ten, in 1991. Feel old yet? Well don’t, because you grew up listening to a band that is commemorating three decades of game changing music and you got to live it as it happened.
All these years later, Pearl Jam still have something to say as the band is back with their 11th studio album, Gigaton, ready to drop like a bomb on Friday, March 27, 202o via Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records. As the years fly by, we last heard from Pearl Jam upon the release of 2013’s Lightning Bolt. Giving us the hit single “Sirens,” Lightning Bolt was a hit around the world for Pearl Jam and reached No. 1 on four different Billboard album charts. In 2017, Pearl Jam were graced with the ultimate of accolades when their legacy was forever enshrined into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the band’s first year of eligibility.
After waiting 7 years for new music, Pearl Jam fans have Gigaton to look forward to, as this new material arrives at a trying time politically in American culture. Always speaking his mind, Vocalist Eddie Vedder has always used his music to express his views and Gigaton is no different. In fact, to really get the most out of Gigaton, it is highly recommended listeners go old school and read the lyrics that accompany the album. To the point, not every song on Gigaton is political, however, understanding Vedder’s words, no matter the subject, really lends to this listening experience.
Headphones on, Gigaton kicks off with a hi-hat tap heading into the loud, jangly dual guitar attack of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready on the track “Who Ever Said.” A boisterous sound, Pearl Jam die hards will be refreshed with the raw rhythm of Jeff Ament (Bass) and Matt Cameron (Drums) as well as Vedder’s crude and forever recognizable voice. Going back to the lyrics, one can really take a lot from words such as “Whoever said it’s all been said gave up on satisfaction.” Perhaps Vedder is trying to say we should never settle for less than what we desire. After that, we have the two singles, the cosmic guitar soloing of “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Dance of the Clairvoyants.” The latter,”Dance of the Clairvoyants” is by far the most different music Pearl Jam has ever done. This is not exactly a Rock song but an ode to, and in the style of, The Talking Heads all with keyboards and 1980’s sound effects.
As we roll on, “Quick Escape” is a steady and balanced groove sounding like it could be a great live song on a dimly lit stage, with low white lights, and smoke. A ballad of sorts, “Alright” is the right way to follow up the last track, as Vedder’s somber voice alludes to saying that it is ok to go your own way in life if that is what you need. Diving deeper into the lyrics, “Seven O’Clock” is a ballad holding a lot political symbolism about freedom (“They giveth and they taketh and you fight to keep what you’ve earned”). Then, “Take the Long Way” is a chuggy rocker while “Buckle Up” has a child like melody yet a dark undertone. Another stand out, “Comes Then Goes” has an acoustic melody that is very likable in a 1990’s kind of way. After that, “Retrograde” has a homelike sound that is very comforting. Closing Gigaton, “River Cross” is a nice ending with a serene feel that layers parallel to the track’s political tone.
Rock trailblazers, Pearl Jam enters their third decade as a band. As their latest, Gigaton comes to us in the form of 12 new songs mixing rockers and an abundance of ballads. Overall, Pearl Jam are once again making their voices heard with a diverse line up of songs all with a raw garage band sound. A highly anticipated release, Cryptic Rock awards Pearl Jam’s Gigaton 3 out of 5 stars.