Pearl Jam’s eleventh album is Gigaton and it was co-produced and engineered by Josh Evans. Maybe it’s just the social distancing talking, but one can’t help but think how great it would be to hear these songs live. The lead single from the album, “Dance of The Clairvoyants”? Not so much. But bangers like “Who Ever Said”, “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Quick of the Escape” – that’s a resounding yes. On those songs Eddie sounds old and pissed as good as he sounded young as pissed two decades ago. This album is Pearl Jam’s best record of this century and it’s a return when the band’s now middle-aged fan base needs them the most.
The best songs on Gigaton are the longer tracks that feel more like live performances than songs on an album. Songs like “Who Ever Said”, and “Take the Long Way” feel like a mix between Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead. They are big, long songs that you can imagine Eddie enthusiastically bobbing his head to on stage. It’s most definitely a studio album and sounds tremendous but it translates the band’s live energy to a studio recording better than anything they’ve done since the mid 90’s.
This record sounds great, but Eddie’s pissed off with his lyrics here too. Of course, this is the first Pearl Jam record during the Trump administration so Pearl Jam has some things to say about that, but all things considered, the lyrics are kind of mild. Really the only song with a very deep lyrical digestion is “Seven O’clock” – everything else is just a touch cryptic.
Pearl Jam’s Gigaton isn’t Ten, but it’s a cool record from a band that we hadn’t heard anything new from since 2013. Pearl Jam is saying some meaningful things here and they are delivering the energy of their live performance on a record.