Music Review: Pearl Jam Creates a Fresh Sound

You’ve probably heard of


, Pearl Jam’s latest hit album, from the new commercial for Target. The band used this opportunity to launch their first single from the album, “The Fixer,” which was an instant success. The upbeat, catchy, and perfectly arranged rock track is a great example of what the new album has in store for listeners. The chorus lyrics read, “If something’s old, I wanna put a bit of shine on it, When something’s gone, I wanna fight to get it back again.” I think it’s safe to say that the boys don’t have to fight to get it back again. They’ve definitely got it!

The question is, did they always have “it?”

Pearl Jam started out as a Seattle-based band trying to popularize grunge music, but as grunge slowly died out and gave way to contemporary rock, the boys turned their focus to a more ‘90s, mainstream rock sound. This resulted in a rather confused collection of songs. The fact that the band produced smaller, experimental records, instead of more polished albums, didn’t help them find their footing in the music industry.

Which is why


was such an amazing transformation, one that we never expected from a group of men in their late forties trying to rekindle something they may never have had. The album turned out to be a perfect mesh of head-banging grunge and gentle, melodious rock. Pearl Jam has managed to capture a beautiful space in-between these two distinct genres. They have created a sound that is fresh, totally unexpected, and much needed.

So what did the band do differently this time? For one, this is the first time that they decided to actually write out all the songs before going into the studio to record them, creating focused and carefully arranged tracks. According to lead singer Eddie Vedder, writing the songs was like capturing lightning in a bottle: “it happens quick and it just goes where it needs to go.” The band demonstrated maturity in their approach to this album. They seem to have realized that songs can have themes beyond freedom or broken hearts. Vedder said that he is trying to be an instrument, rather than a storyteller. The songs on the album are upbeat and positive—a stark contrast with Pearl Jam’s earlier work.

Rating: ****

Tracks not to miss: Unthought Known, The Fixer, Just BreatheTracks from previous albums not to miss: Jeremy, Light Years, Yellow Ledbetter

Songs like “Got Some,” “Gonna See My Friend,” and “Force of Nature” give listeners the good, clean, exhilarated hard rock sound that we’ve been missing lately. After 19 years on the music scene, the band members are finally at their prime. Vedder’s voice has reached new levels of intensity, similar to Serj Tankian, of System of a Down. Matt Cameron, (former drummer for Soundgarden), drummer and lyricist for most of the songs on the new album, has an amazing inner rhythm. The music is easy on the ears, memorable, and even borderlines on pop, which will probably make this album more of a commercial success than Pearl Jam’s previous explorations.

The album also has some lighter tracks with a strong new wave influence, which are less in-your-face. These tracks include “Unthought Known” and “Amongst Waves,” both of which I would recommend for those who listen to The Foo Fighters and Nirvana. The album also has a few slow-paced, heartfelt, and meaningful ballads, which provide a breath of fresh air amidst the heavier tracks. “Just Breathe” is my favorite. It is a touching, momentous, and deep song featuring Vedder singing, accompanied by acoustic guitar. The combination of delicate melody and the eloquence of Vedder’s singing make the song pure, powerful, and passionate. Songs like these are bound to catch regular Pearl Jam followers off-guard, especially since this is their first release since the reissue of



This is Pearl Jam’s ninth studio album; they finally got it right!


is a combination of innovative melodies and lyrics, diverse guitar riffs, and a fusion of musical genres. Vedder has repeatedly said, “Any moment, something fantastic can happen,” and he was right.

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