Posted on by Oran

Pearl Jam return with an album that showcases the bands’ exceptional ability to create raw, sincere, and undoubtedly, great alternative rock music. ‘Dark Matter’ is a return to form that, I for one, did not see coming…

If you were lucky enough to be of age when their debut ‘Ten’ came crashing through the atmosphere back in 1991, then this, the bands twelfth studio album will reignite any lost love over the last few releases.

Their blistering early discography is as impressive as any alt-rock fan could have wished for, giving us some absolute stone-cold classics over the years. However, with a change in style that followed from the early naughties, (‘Binaural‘ 2000, ‘Riot Act‘ 2002, Self-Titled 2006), it wasn’t until ‘Backspacer‘ (2009), where I feel the band finally emerged from somewhat of an identity crises.

In fact when comparing this new opus to 2020’s ‘Gigaton‘, which saw them slip back into their old habits of long, stretched-out ballads and unnecessary build ups, there seems to be a new revitalised air within the Pearl Jam camp here, and it shows from the moment opening number, ‘Scared of Fear‘ gallops out with burning intensity.

Overall, there is a tremendous live sound across all eleven tracks, specifically Jeff Ament’s bass mix, which gives songs such as the punk-infused, ‘React-Respond‘, title track, ‘Dark Matter‘, ‘Waiting for Stevie‘ (where Vedder gives huge Chris Cornell vibes), and the barn-burner that is ‘Running‘, giving the impression that this is a hungry band in the mid-twenties, ready to take on the world… once again.

Dark Matter‘ is devoid of ‘fat‘! In fact, I wonder if the band (conscious of the criticism towards ‘Gigaton‘) trimmed the songs multiple times, stripping back to the very core intensity of each track? If this is the case, then it’s the best decision Pearl Jam have made in their recent recording history. What we are left with is an album where each track seamlessly floats into the next, each with their own huge, anthemic presence.

With focus on exceptional songwriting, which has sadly become somewhat of a lost art when comparing bands of this vintage, Pearl Jam have knocked it out of the park here, and long may it continue. 4/5

Dark Matter‘ will be available from April 19th. Pre-order your copy from your local record store, or access on your chosen streaming platform.

Oran O’Beirne 2024