Pearl Jam – Gigaton
By: Anna Wood | Top Tracks: Seven O’Clock, Retrograde
Few bands make an explosive impact when they release new music; Pearl Jam is one of them. When I first heard Pearl Jam’s Gigaton (2020), it was two weeks into the pandemic. I recall lying on my bedroom floor, pondering the insanity around me, while Eddie Vedder’s vocals provided solace.
There’s a reason why the band spent three years recording this masterpiece, and it becomes clear as you listen. Whether it’s the lyrics, or the instruments themselves, every song has a unique offering. Pearl Jam truly has outdone themselves again.
The record has songs that are just Pearl Jam being, well, Pearl Jam. Tracks such as “Who Ever Said,” and “Never Destination” tap back into Pearl Jam’s loud, energetic rock roots. I have often found myself nodding along to these songs, and man, does it make me wish I could be at a loud, sold out concert. Luckily for me, Vedder confidently sings the lyrics with enough passion to make me almost believe I’m listening to a live performance. Tracks such as “Take The Long Way” and “Quick Escape” are also your typical Pearl Jam tunes. I’m baffled as to why these two haven’t received more recognition, and why they aren’t top tracks on this album. I’ve found myself nodding along to these songs; a classic symbol of a real, head-bang worthy song.
While some songs leave me wishing to be at a loud concert, others just make me want to dance. Tracks such as “Superblood Wolfmoon” and “Dance Of The Clairvoyants” provide a sense of groove and excitement that no other track gives the listener. Pearl Jam has branched out a little with these songs, abandoning the typical rock sound and opting for a groovier beat.
Although the heavier side of the album is a comforting reminder of 90’s rock, it’s the slower songs on this record that make the most significant impact on the listener. These songs serve as reminders that Pearl Jam doesn’t need to rely on being loud to be powerfully good.
“Alright” is an interesting track, because it provides a bit of a pause between the moments where Pearl Jam truly is being their typical, grunge-rock selves. Vedder’s soft voice compliments this slow song while reminding the listener that “it’s alright.”
Songs such as “Buckle Up” and “Comes Then Goes” are powerful moments throughout this album. I may be biased because I’m a sucker for acoustic Pearl Jam, but there is something magical about how Vedder’s voice mixes with the instruments on these slower songs. These are both songs that make you feel at peace, and there’s something genuinely hypnotic about these tracks.
“Seven O’Clock” is personally my favorite on this album. It is a bit more ambient than other tracks on the album, yet it’s not as soft as some acoustic songs. My favorite lines from this particular song are “swim sideways from this undertow and do not be deterred” and “this f*cked up situation calls for all hands-on deck,” which man, did I find incredibly relevant back in March.
Many songs on this album deserve more recognition, but the one I thought deserved to be the most popular track is “Retrograde.” Lyrics such as “equal but opposite” and “accelerate the change” add to the sheer power that comes from this song. Seriously, I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why this song isn’t the most popular on the album. I wish this was the last track because it leaves you shell-shocked. It deserves a moment of silence afterward to fully digest what you’ve heard.
Oddly enough, the last track on this album begins with an organ. “River Cross,” which is the final track, is a haunting tune. Vedder’s vocals are beautiful, and the organ compliments it. Singing lyrics like “these days will end” adds to the song’s haunting nature, making it a powerful ending to Gigaton.
Pearl Jam is the only band that can release an album with such nuance and grace. Their power as a band lies within their ability to provide the listener with a wide range of tracks, and if you take away anything after listening to this album, it should be sheer respect for a band that has proved themselves time and time again.