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Review: Pearl Jam - Gigaton (2020)

Written by Manny Pagsuyuin • Music Reviewer

It’s been a while since I last listened to Pearl Jam. Has it really been nearly thirty years since their fantabulous album Ten debuted with a global uproar that turned the rock music scene inside out. Those two albums, Ten and Vs., were for me, the nadir of PJ’s oeuvre, their magnum opuses. Or perhaps it’s just me. Listening to their latest album Gigaton places me in a sort of blind spot here. I have not been conscientious with listening (let alone appreciating) PJ’s past works. They’re spotty at best, with a bit of Vitalogy here, a bit of Yield there. I remember owning their live Benaroya Hall cd once and Live On Two Legs but generally, that was it.

Gigaton is the first proper PJ album I actually sat down and listened to in a long while. The album's 1-2 punch openers (Who Ever Said and Superblood Wolfmoon) stun you and don’t mince words. With “ventricles pumping working overtime,” Singer Eddie Vedder spews venomous veiled diatribe aimed at life and everything that makes it suck in the here and now.

Their relentless pace on the fast tunes reminds me of The Who in their prime. Vedder is still snarly after all these years. Political venom seeps from his prose ably assisted by the trio of Gossard, McCready and Ament. Matt Cameron is a drummer on fire here. PJ, it should be noted, is in fine form on this outing.

The album is a hodge podge of styles with some midtempo poppish offerings in Dance Of Clairvoyants, an outcry of hopelessness, with words like “The past is the present and the future's no more, every tomorrow's the same as before..” It’s expectation versus reality, which is ironically the feeling you get listening to this album. An attempt to achieve balance between the rockers and ballads (Retrograde), the electric (Never Destination) and acoustic (Comes Then Goes) is what keeps Gigaton afloat. Sadly, though the album lacks focus and direction, sounding more like odds and ends thrown together into one incohesive effort. The playing is excellent though. You can do better than that, guys.


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