Music Review: Pearl Jam is Back

I never thought they left…

By Cristina Alvarez
The Talon Advisor

From the group that brought you hits like “Jeremy”, “Evenflow”, and “Better Man” comes the highly anticipated 11th album, Gigaton. Now, I know a majority of the younger readers of The Talon are asking, “Ms. Alvarez, who is Pearl Jam?”. Well, Pearl Jam is the greatest rock and roll band to come out of the 90s and early 2000s (Soundgarden comes in at a very close second). The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and has sold out shows its whole existence (and not at dinky venues, but at big venues like Madison Square Garden).

Granted, it’s been seven years since the band released an album…seven long years! A lot has changed in the world in seven years, especially within the last few months. If you still aren’t sure who (or what) Pearl Jam is, read on, listen, and enjoy this (a little too) honest review from one of Pearl Jam’s faithful followers. I’m not going to go into details about every track because, well, I think the song “Buckle Up” is terrible.

Let’s start with my personal favorite song on the album, “Seven O’Clock”. I don’t know what it is about this song that makes me love it so much. It might be because the lyrics are eerie and represent what our world currently looks like.

For this is no time for depression or self-indulgent hesitance
This [messed]-up situation calls for all hands, hands on deck

When the band started writing this album, COVID-19 wasn’t even a blip on the world’s radar. Currently, so many people are risking their health and their lives for the greater good of helping others. All hands are definitely on deck. As for the actual tune, it has an amazing flow musically, as lead singer Eddie Vedder’s sultry voice makes you feel all the feels. My favorite part of the song is the harmonizing at the end. It’s so incredibly beautiful with the message that there is still so much to be done to fix whatever problems we are facing, either in the world or in our own lives. 

Clip from “Seven O’Clock” by Pearl Jam

Let’s now dive into the first single, “Dance of the Clairvoyants”. Right off the bat, the bass riff from Jeff Ament sets an amazing beat. This song is very grunge-like with a lot of anger from Vedder. I’d say this whole album has a very mature grunge sound. Side note, the definition of clairvoyance is, “the supposed faculty of perceiving things or events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact”. 

Not one man can be greater than the sun
That’s not a negative thought
I’m positive, positive, positive

As previously noted, the way the band’s lyrics reflect today’s society, maybe Vedder has clairvoyance…

Clip from “Dance of the Clairvoyants” by Pearl Jam

Finally, “Quick Escape” has the hard rock we’ve all come to know and love about Pearl Jam. This song is so good, it is listed on National Public Radio’s (NPR) article “The Best New Songs You’ve Missed During Quarantine” (April 7, 2020). It addresses the need for action regarding the global environmental crisis that has been plaguing our planet for years, and how the only way to avoid it is to make a “quick escape” to another planet.

Oh, and we think about the old days 
Of green grass, sky and red wine 
Should’ve known it’s so fragile 
Avoided this one-way flight

In all honesty, if this song is good enough for NPR, it’s good enough for everyone!

Clip of “Quick Escape” by Pearl Jam

Personally, I think everyone should go listen to this album (available on any music sharing app). Other than schoolwork (or professional work) and TikTok, what else are you doing? Expand your musical horizons, and when school returns we can sit in my classroom with snacks and Capri Sun’s and discuss. 

Important side note: Pearl Jam is not a band that has ever shied away from its political views. I am not endorsing, nor condemning, the political views of the band revealed in this album.