The inevitable march towards environmental destruction and a certain perma-tanned incumbent of The White House have lit a spark under Pearl Jam, in part inspiring new album Gigaton (Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records). “The lengths we had to go to then, to find a place Trump hadn’t fucked up yet” Eddie Vedder spits on ‘Quick Escape’, a moody, mid-paced rocker about an environmentally ravaged future. The restrained and subtle power of ‘Seven O’Clock’ is another reaction to modern America, saying that now is not the time for despondency given the situation and “sitting bullshit as our sitting president”.
This their eleventh album is a varied one sound-wise, this is a band that are not content to rest on their laurels. It still has the full-throttle rockers that they are known for, the opening track ‘Who Ever Said’ lures you in with the comforting pairing of rousing riffs and a powerful chorus. ‘Never Destination’ pops up midway through the album, perking things up perfectly with raucous, punk-like aggression and an explosive solo. The best track of this ilk is the second single ‘Superblood Wolfmoon’, a belter of a track and one that will no doubt go down a treat live.
Elsewhere they go where the mood takes them and with good results, the most startling being the lead single ‘Dance of the Clairvoyants’ – once the initial shock wears off the charms of its hypnotic drum beat and spiky Talking Heads-esque sound become apparent. The aforementioned ‘Seven O’Clock’ is another good example, with its softly strummed guitar and sweet, melodious synths.
The title track and ‘River Cross’ end the nearly hour-long album in a slow fashion – the former is an emotive ditty with a quiet but growing sense of power, reminiscent of the introspective pop of Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love album. ‘River Cross’ is minimalistic, sparsely populated with a swelling organ and a less is more drumbeat – a sombre and melancholic note on which to end.
Gigaton is a great record that richly rewards repeat listens, from restless rockers to the melodious and hook-filled, the story-driven to the slower and atmospheric it harmoniously sews together the many facets of Pearl Jam.
8 / 10