Pearl Jam dropped their newest release, Gigaton, today. Fans were treated to the teaser song "Dance of the Clairvoyants" earlier this year. The song was heavily criticized by fans and music critics alike.
So, what of the rest of the album?
"Who Ever Said" kicks off the record followed by "Superblood Wolfmoon"; both of which have a bit of a Ten feel. Regardless of the similarities to their debut record, Gigaton feels a bit forced. It's heavily overun by technology, which is a downer when you have some of the most amazing musicians in the band.
I found myself really struggling to get through the record, and I am a big Pearl Jam fan. Eddie Vedder's vocal melodies are quintessentially Vedder, mumbly and soft, but they lack the gruffness that they have always carried in them.
As for the instrumentals, they really bring me down. When you have a drummer like Matt Cameron in your band, why on Earth would you make it sound like he is on a drum machine? Jeff Ament's bass is so buried in the mix of Gigaton that is practically non-existent, which is a bummer to not be able to hear his funky slaps on these songs.
The saving grace on the album is the guitars provided by Stone Gossard and Mike McCready. If you put either of these guys on any song, they can make it palatable.
"Who Ever Said", "Take the Long Way", and "Never Destination" are easily the best songs on the record.
Pearl Jam has always been good at blending the fast and heavy with the more chill tunes; but unlike a Vitalogy or even a Lightning Bolt, Gigaton fails to do the same.
The slower songs on the record are not awful, but again, it is so over ran with technology that it makes it generic. If you're wanting to listen to something to relax to, this record is for you. If not, pass on by.
Has Pearl Jam lost their edge? Is there nothing fueling Vedder's fire anymore? Hard to say. The album isn't absolutely un-listenable, but it's not their best. I wouldn't put it in my top favorites. To me, it just sounds like a band influenced by Pearl Jam, but wanting to be generic enough to get airplay. For a band that broke boundaries in the music industry, it's a bummer.
Regardless of my thoughts on it, it's still worth checking out. Different strokes for different folks. I continue to look forward to what they come up with, and hopefully if they ever get back to Vegas, I look forward to seeing them play songs throughout their repertoire, just not so much the stuff from this record.