A comeback of epic proportions
Melanie Kaidan
21:00 23rd March 2020

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Pearl Jam, one of grunge’s most pioneering outfits, are back with Gigaton, their tenth studio album - seven years after their last LP, Lightning Bolt.

After a very critically unsuccessful, and somewhat boring effort in Lightning Bolt this seven year interval was more of a reflection on the band’s trajectory rather than a wait for an album that would redeem them for the feeble previous attempt. Luckily for their doting fans, Gigaton has managed to do the latter and even pleasantly surprise.

The record kicks off with upbeat and vindictive tracks before winding down to the more contemplative songs at the halfway point. The first tune, 'Who Ever Said’, is a sudden injection of unrelenting energy. In ‘Superblood Wolfmoon’ Mike McCready and Stone Gossard bring back Pearl Jam’s old style, with riffs that could have been lifted from their 2006 self-titled release.

It’s very unlike Pearl Jam to take a sharp turn with a song like ‘Dance of the Clairvoyants’, but the track’s dance-punk inspired riffs make it an unexpected highlight of the album. Although it’s one of the two songs released ahead of the record, it should not be conceived as a prediction of it – the rest of the songs are nothing like it. So for anyone preparing themselves for a letdown, no, they have not mutated; do listen to the rest of album.

Eddie Vedder’s sensible songwriting shines through in the last songs on Gigaton, including the poignant ‘Retrograde’, a daunting vision of a catastrophic future. The soulful closing track, ‘River Cross’, features an eerie pump-organ and a message that is disconcertingly zeitgeist-y, as Vedder sings a plea, “Share the light”.

It is truly a relief that Pearl Jam finally decided to go back to the origins of their infuriated, revolting grunge sound, mixed with their also characteristically grievous, slower tracks. Although they have evolved throughout the years, Pearl Jam have delivered an album worthy of the titanic comeback they deserve whilst staying true to the original sound that makes them a perpetual classic.

Gigaton is released on 27 March 2020 via Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records.

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