by Will Clausel
Pearl Jam are back after a 7-year absence from studio work with the release of their 11th studio album, Gigaton. While the band celebrates their 30th birthday this year, they can still reach back for some of the magic from their early 90’s albums and combine it with the maturity that has been accumulated during a 30-year career.
Gigaton comes in hard and fast with the duo of “Who Ever Said” and “Superblood Wolfmoon,” and sets the tone that these “old guys” still can bring it when they need to. They follow those up with the first single from the album, “Dance of Clairvoyants,” which features a new, experimental sound from Pearl Jam, which helps make it my personal favorite from the album. “DoTC,” as Pearl Jam fans refer to it, sounds more like a classic Talking Heads song than a Pearl Jam song, but the Seattle rockers did a lot of musical experimentation with this album.“DoTC” is an example of how well the experimentation works for this older version of Pearl Jam.
The album also finishes on a strong note, slowing down with “Retrograde” and “River Cross.” These two acoustic songs hit the brakes for the album, and gently bring the album to a close with some great lyrics and melodies from Eddie Vedder, along with some fine musicianship from the rest of the band.
As an older band, you never know which album will be their last, so it’s important to appreciate the music that Pearl Jam keep giving us, especially as they transform themselves into the band they want to be. But, all in all, Gigaton isn’t an announcement that Pearl Jam are back; it’s a reminder that they never left.