Follow Us on Twitter

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IT’S been four years in coming but Pearl Jam have finally delivered their eighth studio album – and it’s something of a disappointment.

By the band’s own admission, Pearl Jam is a hard driving affair during which all the instruments are going at full force.

The themes remain intact, from the Eddie Vedder-penned World Wide Suicide (which speaks for itself) to efforts called Life Wasted and Comatose.

But it’s a little more one dimensional than most, only delivering a handful of genuine classics in amongst the driving intensity of everything else.

Vedder’s powerhouse vocals are as dynamic and unmistakeable as ever but the album often feels too one note and in no way worth the wait.

It’s ironic, in fact, that it enjoys most success when keeping things quiet – for there’s no Jeremy, Alive or Even Flow among the louder efforts here.

The slow-building Gone clearly harks back to better days and left me craving for more of the same, while the seven-minute final offering, Inside Job is epic in scope and succeeds in delivering a suitably rousing finale.

But early on many of the records follow the exact same formula – full throttle guitars, impassioned lyrics and pounding drums. Nothing really stands out in the way we have come to expect from Pearl Jam.

The issues remain political and bleak, with everything from President Bush and the Iraq War to American apathy coming under fire, but efforts such as World Wide Suicide might have benefited from a more layered approach.

That’s not to say Pearl Jam is an awful album and it’s sure to keep the purists happy – it’s just that it doesn’t feel like something that’s been four years in the making.

Of the really good stuff, Parachutes is an absolute gem – a quieter effort that’s rich in melody and melancholy. Or, as the band comments, a track which “could be our best attempt yet at pulling the disguises off of loss of life, and even love”.

It’s acoustically driven and an example of Pearl Jam at their most heartfelt.

Unemployable, though more boisterous, harks back to the old school rock and roll of Rolling Stones, complete with a lively, chant-along chorus and some excellent lyrics.

While another of the slow tracks, Come Back, provides plenty for listeners to think about as only Vedder and co know how.

No matter what you may think of the hard-drivers, this is an album with plenty to say – it’s just that it could have taken a little more time to get the message across.

It’s an ok album – but then from an act of Pearl Jam’s stature, we’ve come to expect so much more.

Watch our Pearl Jam special

Track listing:

  1. Life Wasted
  2. World Wide Suicide
  3. Comatose
  4. Severed Hand
  5. Marker In The Sand
  6. Parachutes
  7. Unemployable
  8. Big Wave
  9. Gone
  10. Wasted Reprise
  11. Army Reserve
  12. Come Back
  13. Inside Job

  1. Come on guys! Pearl Jam are the greatest. Even an average album from them towers above most mainstream fodder. This deserves more than a 3 in anyone’s book!!!

    Craig    May 11    #