Pearl Jam come roaring back with superb new album

Mark Kennedy

AP – Trust Pearl Jam to still surprise us in 2020. The Seattle rock kings have made an album we didn’t know we needed.

“Gigaton” is a fascinating and ambitious 12-track collection with a cleaner, crisper sound that is studded with interesting textures, topped by Eddie Vedder’s still-indignant voice.

Many songs switch gears and morph into something else before they’re done, as if the group was restless to try something else. Bandmates have also switched instruments on this, their 11th studio album and their first in seven years.

Gigaton marks the band’s first co-production with Josh Evans, who previously worked with Soundgarden and Chris Cornell. He’s helped pull out more experimentation, certainly from the messy last studio offering, Lightning Bolt.

The first single, Dance of the Clairvoyants, is easily one of the most exciting Pearl Jam songs in decades, with guitarist Stone Gossard playing chunky bass lines, Mike McCready offering splintering, chopping guitar riffs and Vedder’s voice at its most mercurial, bursting out of the song’s outline.

Alright is a nifty, spacey, Peter Gabriel-ish tune and Comes Then Goes is an acoustic ballad for a lost friend. Gossard sings backup vocals on his terrifically unsettling lullaby Buckle Up and drummer Matt Cameron shines on the excellent Take the Long Way, attacking his kit like a thrash act.

Gigaton by Pearl Jam. PHOTO: AP