Pearl Jam

Gigaton

Written by: PP on 10/01/2021 18:16:22

An institution within grunge, Pearl Jam has released ten albums before "Gigaton", their first album in seven years and their longest pause to date, yet they have been quite impressive in delivering a rather consistent quality throughout. True, it is a long while since we've heard an outright classic, but as Pearl Jam have demonstrated on records like "Backspacer" and "Pearl Jam" over the years, their more 'regular' output is incredibly solid and enjoyable, too, despite following a tried-and-tested formula throughout.

For "Gigaton" then, we meet arguably the most creative and experimental Pearl Jam of the past couple of decades. Already on track three, "Dance Of The Clairvoyants", we encounter a version of grunge that admittedly sounds a bit more like Franz Ferdinand's indie rock than what you'd immediately associate with Pearl Jam. Likewise, "Quick Escape" throws down a heavier version borrowing from Alter Bridge style crunchy, arena rock, whereas "Buckle Up" features playful instrumentation and offers a different look altogether to challenge fans.

But fear not, if you're after the classic rollicking, upbeat, cheerful version of Pearl Jam, that's all here as well. "Who Ever Said" opens the record in a spirited, high-energy manner, delivering a catchy chorus and plenty of groovy guitars for an authentic grunge rock experience. Similarly, "Superblood Wolfmoon" and especially "Never Destination" highlight that the 90s alternative rock spirit lives on vividly on "Gigaton", underlining these tracks as the immediate highlights to pick from the record given their driving nature.

Yet a part of grunge has always been the downtrodden ballads, and this we see on "Alright" with its quiet and somber melody, however, it is on "Seven O'Clock" where Eddie Vedder truly shines. Here we have a classic grunge ballad that teleports you right back to the early 90s: the longing, nostalgia-driven croons and an authentic ambiance through quiet, yet deliberate instrumentation is just beautiful to listen to.

The second half of the record is mostly dedicated to experimentation. The songs become decisively less rock'n'roll and alternative rock classified rather than complex structures where it's clear Pearl Jam are testing the limits of what their fans will accept. "Comes Then Goes" is an acoustic ballad, but not the grungy kind, "Retrograde" relies on expansive atmospheres, and "River Cross" is piano/organs-driven quietness: Not sure any of these are among my favorites on the record, to be honest, but at least Pearl Jam is steering away from the formula.

Overall, "Gigaton" is once again a solid Pearl Jam album. It has powerful grunge rock anthems like "Never Destination", "Take The Long Way" etc that will keep the core fanbase happy. But it's the first time we're really hearing Vedder & co try something completely new and different to their classic sound as well. So far, I'm not 100% sold on the experiment, yet there's so much quality song here that you can happily jump over the few duds present here.

8

Download: Who Ever Said, Never Destination, Superblood Wolfmoon, Seven O'Clock
For the fans of: Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Bush
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.03.2020
Monkeywrench / Republic

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