Pearl Jam are back and back in a big way with their eleventh album Gigaton which also coincides with their 30th anniversary. With a significant time lapse between albums, their last being Lightning Bolt back in 2013, it is no doubt the start of a new chapter for Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron.
Gigaton is defined as a unit of explosive power equivalent to one and that best describes the album. The first thing that is striking is the artwork which is a stark reminder about the environment but it isn’t all doom and gloom however. The album does leave the listener with some hope and whilst a lot of fans will debate the relative merits of each song on this album there’s plenty of “intellectual nourishment” to please the staunchest of Pearl Jam fans.
First single Dance Of The Clairvoyants created this wave of anticipation and it was definitely like wow, I’m liking what I’m hearing here! It has thrown a lot of fans off track as to where they were going to take Gigaton as it is so different to anything they have done before it works so well.
Breaking in to a fast gallop to find somewhere on Friday that had a physical copy to purchase I haven’t been able to put it down since I got it. The album builds from a quiet intro in Who Ever Said jumping in to a classic Pearl Jam rocker. The tone ramp up again on Superblood Wolfmoon and will no doubt be a live staple in due course. For me, it is the combination of Jeff Ament’s basslines and Mike McCready’s guitar solos in Quick Escape that makes this one stand out.
The mood slows down a tad on Alright and Seven O’Clock with Eddie Vedder’s vocals taking centre stage. The feisty rock swagger is unleashed on Never Destination, love it! Take The Long Way is another solid moment on Gigaton, with the band in full flight.
The soothing nature and the feeling of being at ease in Buckle Up leads in well to the last three tracks which are slower and more contemplative moments which leaves the listener with those notions of hope and perseverance with Comes Then Goes, Retrograde and River Cross. Ed on pipe organ in River Cross is a highlight for sure.
Thirty years on and Pearl Jam still have have the fire, passion and something to say. Gigaton is a fantastic album.
Album Review By Rob Lyon
Have a listen to Gigaton on Spotify…