May 25, 2006

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Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam
J Records, 2006

Chaos, decay, and anger at government(s) leading us astray are the overriding theme on this Peal Jam album. In that context, it’s a natural extension of the band’s previous studio release, 2002’s “Riot Act”. This new self-titled disc, however, is far angrier, aggressive, and lyrically scalding. Take a refrain from the radio single “World Wide Suicide”: “Medals on a wooden mantle, next to a handsome face; that the president took for granted, writing checks that others pay.” Eddie Vedder is often accused of clumsy writing and humorless singing by his critics, but PJ’s fan base clearly expects this band to take on issues and voice the anger and frustration of a large part of a generation many have labeled apathetic. To their credit, this new album continues the tradition. Some tracks flirt with flanging and the Hammond organ appears on a few tracks to good effect, but for the most part the 13 songs are straight up garage rock with little over dubbing. Although it lacks some of the subtly and quieter moments of their mid-to-late 90’s releases, Pearl Jam sound renewed, with a sense of purpose they haven’t seemed to have on disc in awhile. What happens when arena-punk rock meets 40-something? With Pearl Jam, a thinking-fans’ rock album is the result. B

— Rick Ganley


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