Pearl Jam - Gigaton

Pearl Jam Gigaton cover
Pearl Jam
It’s almost endearing how the masses will more usually be endeared towards BS, rather than brilliance… but I guess due to timing, circumstance and a strong single, Pearl Jam managed to explode into the public’s consciousness in the early 90s, as part of the grunge rage, which took the rock world by storm then only to implode shortly thereafter. Never managing to outdo their first few albums, the band’s only saved by their work ethic and heavy touring, as they’re one if not the only of their peers who are still alive and going on. Vedder might not be able to sing still, hollering melodically along, but at least he’s alive, unlike almost all of his peers in the bands from that ilk that sold in the millions.
“Gigaton” comes some seven years after the largely forgettable and even often dismissed by fans, “Lightning Bolt”, a sort of softer album, which felt like the equivalent of dadrock to grunge fans… only dad-rock tends to rock… most of the time… all anthemic and bristling with energy. Pearl Jam sort of manages to get some more energetic or melodic moments that Vedder sometimes manages to “sell” better than others.
“Whoever Said” opens up thumbing and pumping – feeling like late 90s PJ.
“Superblood Wolfmoon” is poppier and even properly catchy, begging for some better vocals, but even Vedder’s yobbish shouting sort of carries it through… Definitely the albums highlight.
“Dance of the Clairvoyants” feels like someone chopping up Talking Heads from the 80s and delivering it via 00s PJ to a crowd too young to have experienced the original. While it’s interesting it begins a slippery slope from which the album rarely manages to escape.
Well, “Quick Escape” has some charming moments, mainly instrumentation and some bad harmonies, but it doesn’t get the proverbial cigar, for getting close to being good.
“Alright” doesn’t flatter Vedder’s limited expressive ability and its meek soundscapes that are soothing, sound worse for his contributions.
“Seven O’Clock” is another artsy tune, with droney keys and a subdued Vedder; not terrible, but nothing to write home about, at least he’s somewhat more palatable here.
“Never Destination” tries to kick up the jams and sort of does… well it does manage to clear the mist from the eyes and the cobwebs from the listeners ear, with its rocking vibe, but it’s not exactly the arockalypse…
“Take the Long Way” is similarly charged, but a little more punky, like a sanitized version of something that could have been in the earlier albums… whose charm was exactly their rawness and edge… here’ it’s blunt.
“Buckle Up” is mellow and feels dazed and confused but not in a good way and along with the acoustic “Comes then Goes”, these solo Vedder like songs are rather forgettable.
“Retrograde” feels like badly sung Americana… and while the smooth “Rivers Cross” feels like something that could end up epic sounding and interesting, like a leftfield classic rocker’s analogue, it doesn’t manage to climax in the way it should.
With a career spanning three decades, Pearl Jam is still around. They’re able to pen a decent tune on occasion, along with some nice parts sparsely populating the tracks, but they’re probably the least interesting of all the bands to have come out of the 90s. While the album is an improvement over “Bolt”, it fizzles off fairly quickly after a few initial tracks that could potentially excite and just keeps going through the motions, till it’s over. Thank god!