Pearl Jam tries new paths, but faithful to their identity

Pearl Jam tries new paths, but faithful to their identity

Next April 19th i Pearl Jam they will print their new album “Dark matter”. Before moving forward, let's take a step back and take a look at the last album before the next one by the Seattle band, “Gigaton”which was released on March 27, 2020. Below is the review we published four years ago of what remains Pearl Jam's last album for a few weeks yet.

Pearl Jam are back. It's not just a question of time, even if “Gigaton” arrives six and a half years ago “Lightning bolt”. It's a question of substance: it's the group's most solid album since “Avocado” of 2006. In seven years of touring and intense life the band has refocused itself with an album in which the songs and the sound make the difference, refreshed by the presence of a new producer (Josh Evans – here is our interview ). “Gigaton” hits the mark where it matters “Lightning bolt” had failed: to try new paths, remaining faithful to the group's identity. In “Gigaton” there is a lot of rock, there are brilliant guitars, there are solutions that you don't expect but which never distort the songs (as instead happened in “Lightning bolt”, aged poorly). There are emotional ballads and there are acoustic songs. And there are lyrics that talk about the present, even the unexpected one we are experiencing these days. Let's start quickly with “Who Ever Said” And “Superblood Wolfmoon”, and ends with a final triptych that can only leave fans of some other musical genre insensitive. Here is the story of “Gigaton” song by song.

“Who Ever Said”

A perfect start: it starts as a straight rocker, clean guitars and intense vocals: “Who ever said it's all been said gave up on satisfaction”.

Then he slows down, with an aside in which Vedder's voice becomes more emotional: “Home is where the broken heart is/Home is where every scar is”. Then he starts again: “Swallow my pencil and bleed out my pen / surrender the wish we'll be together again / But I wo n't give up on satisfaction”, then he changes pace again, then starts again. A song written by Vedder, which musically recalls “Marker in the sand” (2006) due to the changes in rhythm. And a text that introduces the themes of the album: reacting to the current times, not letting go. They are Pearl Jam, hyper-recognizable and intense as always, but they look forward.

“Superblood Wolfmoon”

The second single, also written entirely by Eddie Vedder. You already know it: dry drum intro, an equally punchy guitar riff, then Eddie Vedder's voice comes in singing “Superblood wolfmoon took her away too soon”. The song continues with an urgency that recalls the band's early stuff, with a great solo by McCready in the middle of the song, which anticipates the resumption of the initial riff. Vedder once again underlines the theme of reaction and not losing hope: “Don't allow for hopelessness, focus on your focusness/I've been hoping that our hope dies last/I don't know anything, I question everything/This life I love is going way to fast”. Perhaps one of the most “normal” pieces on the album, but the final “I can hear ya” it will be perfect live.

“Dance of the Clairvoyants”

The first song from “Gigaton” that we heard and the most surprising: bass, keyboards and groove. Written collectively by the whole band, it is very reminiscent of Talking Heads, even in the way Eddie Vedder plays some parts. Here too is a text suitable for these days, almost prophetic considering that it comes out in the middle of this crisis: “We're stuck in our boxes/ When it's open no more/ Could've lifted up they're forgetting us/ Not remembering what they 're for/I'm in love with clairvoyants/'Cause they're out of this world”.

“Quick Escape”

A mid tempo with a powerful rhythm section on which the guitars are grafted.

A Ledzeppelin-esque incipit written by Ament, in the “Kashmir” style: coincidentally, in the text we hear “Cross the border to Morocco, Kashmir then to Marrakech”. The song opens with a tribute from Vedder, the author of the lyrics, to Freddie Mercury and Queen: “Reconossaince is on the corner/in the world not so far/First we took an airplane, then a boat to Zanzibar/Queen cranking on the blaster/and Mercury did rise/come along where all we belonged/You were yours and I was mine/Had to… Quick escape”. The desire to escape from the world towards “a post that hasn't been fucked by Trump yet”, in one of the toughest songs on the album, which ends with the sound of a jet.


The album slows down for the first time, in a minimal ballad, written entirely by Jeff Ament. The thematic continuation of the previous song: “It's alright, to be alone, to listen for a heartbeat, it's your own. It's alright, to quiet up, to disappear in thin air, it's your own”. Anger and action are fine, but the revolution begins by looking in the mirror and finding yourself.

“Seven O'clock”

Another mid-tempo song, the longest on the album at 6'14” in length.

This is based on acoustic guitars and keyboards, and with the vocals in the foreground: in the chorus reminiscent of Pink Floyd's “Confortably numb” (often sung by Vedder and the band in the past): “Floodlight dream go drifting past/ all the lives we could've head/ distant loves floating above/ Close these eyes, they've seen enough”. A piece written collectively (lyrics by Vedder, music by the whole band) whose title comes from the first verse (“Seven o' clock, got a message from afar”), with a beautiful ending first in falsetto then with Vedder repeating “Much to be done, much to be done”.

“Never Destination”

We return to rock, with another song written entirely by Vedder, a classic rock song à la Pearl Jam: “Don't wanna believe it/these endless miles, never destination, just more denial”, with the last two words sung with anger, before a McCready solo. The bridge is beautiful and the ending is beautiful: they recall some Pearl Jam passages from “Insignifcance” and “Riot act”.

“Take The Long Way”

The pace increases, with direct punk rock: “I'll break through these feelings/I'll ​​break through the ceiling/Always take the long way that leads me back to you”. A song by Matt Cameron: it's no coincidence that it reminds you of Soundgarden from “Superunknown”.

“Buckle Up”

A guitar arpeggio almost against the beat, Eddie Vedder's voice delicately reciting words that are instead very strong: “I got blood, blood on my hands/the stain of a human” and then invites us to hold on tight, for difficult times: ” Firstly do not harm, then put your seatbelt on/Buckle up”. Written by Stone Gossard, it is the shortest song on the album, 3'37″.

“Comes Then Goes”

We return to the pen of Eddie Vedder for the final triptych: this opens with acoustic guitar and voice, with atmospheres reminiscent of Thin air” and “Off he goes”, not only in the title “Where ya been?/Can i find a glimpse of my friend/Don't know where or when one of left us the other behind/Divisions came and troubled multiplied/Incisions made by scalped blades of time/Comes then goes…” Is Vedder remembering his lost friend Chris Cornell? An entirely acoustic song, without rhythm, about how the times of life alter relationships and a quote from the beloved Who: “Can I try one last time/Could all use a savior for human behavior sometimes/And the kids all right”.


Another ballad, but with a fuller sound, reminiscent of certain things from REM. An acoustic guitar, then the band comes in to support Vedder who sings once again about not letting go: “The more mistakes, the more resolve/It's gonna take much more than ordinary love to lift this up”, before opening with a spine-tingling refrain, on the model of “Sirens”: “Stars align they say when things are better than right now/Feel the retrograde spin us round”. The coda is a crescendo that increases the emotion of the song, and takes us towards the end of the album.

“River Cross”

The classic conclusion: of the Pearl Jam song, a quiet, intense and hopeful song, based on the organ of Eddie Vedder who is the sole author of it, and who also played it in his solo concerts. Vedder recognizes the fight it takes, and invites us to share the light “Folded over, forced in a chokehold/outnumbered and held down/an all this talk of rapture/Look around at the promise now, here and now. Share the light, won't hold us now”.