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Pearl Jam - Riot Act

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 7 / 1 / 2003



Pearl Jam - Riot Act
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

"Indispensable" new album from the mcuh maligned kings of Seattle grunge, Pearl Jam


Pearl Jam are considered by many to be the bloated, derivative, old fashioned monsters of corporate rock. Careless Talk Costs Lives' editor Everett True, supposedly the expert on Seattle Grunge, makes many disparaging remarks about them. For quite a while I agreed, but then I actually gave their latest album, ‘Riot Act’, a proper listen. Alhough Pearl Jam are hardly inventing a new type of music here, they have a subtle inventiveness about everything they do. So whilst the music draws its inspiration from the likes of Led Zeppelin and Neil Young, they don’t actually sound anything like either. On 'Riot Act', the listener is presented with a band at the height of its musical powers, unbothered by commercial pressures and 15 songs, each of which is as markedly different but as equally impressive as the one before. Several things stand out on the record. Firstly that Stone Gossard is a legend of lead guitar playing; pulsating solos are one of the highpoints of many tracks, especially recent single, 'I Am Mine'. Secondly, it’s clear that in acquiring former Soundgarden drummer, Matt Cameron, Pearl Jam have themselves a master of the craft. His drumming is less the powerhouse style beloved of Dave Grohl, more a light and breezy rhythm that complements the band impeccably.Thirdly, we see Pearl Jam as a tasteful band. There’s not a moment on the record that feels out of place, and the general design could hardly be more complimentary. But it is Eddie Vedder’s contribution to the record that really sets it apart. His vocal style is so often imitated that one could easily forget that he’s actually a brilliant singer. There’s a lot of natural sensitivity in his voice, and his range is astonishing. As a songwriter he is a mature and expressive master of the craft. On 'I Am Mine', and 'Can’t Keep', he considers his place in the world, on 'Thumbing My Way' his future. When dealing with his personal emotions, Vedder is open but never resorts to simplicity and certainly never droops to the clichéd depths of angst. He’s equally adept to tackle politics, such as on 'Bushleaguer', a witty yet highly serious attack on America’s current president (“He’s not a leader, he’s a Texas leaguer”) 'Riot Act' is a monumental achievement. Within the context of adult guitar rock, Pearl Jam have made an album that is approachable, yet takes weeks of repeated plays to truly unravel. Truly indispensable!



Track Listing:-
1 Can't Kepp
2 Save You
3 Love Boat Captain
4 Cropduster
5 Ghost
6 I Am Mine
7 Thumbing My Way
8 You Are
9 Get Right
10 Green Disease
11 Held Held
12 Bush Eaguer
13 Half Full
14 Arc
15 All Or None



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