Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Pearl Jam : Riot Act
Mystic comeback from Eddie Vedder's Seattle veterans
Straight out of the trap, there's two that rank with Pearl Jam's best. 'Save You' is a magic carpet ride of bucking riffery and thrashing bead-shakers. Meanwhile, the Mellotron-ridden 'Love Boat Captain' is a gorgeous example of Pearl Jam's gnostic expansiveness done right, Vedder singing "To the universe I don't mean a thing/ And there's just one word I still believe/ It's love". Complaining that Eddie Vedder is morose is like complaining that Johnny Cash has a mostly dark wardrobe. Get over it: it's what he does. His range has expanded, though: with a touch of Michael Stipe's cryptic wisdom, 'You Are' and 'I Am Mine' unfurl grandly, while 'Bushleager' fields a spoken-word attack against Dubya, Vedder growling like William Burroughs: "He's not a leader, he's a Texas leaguer/ Swinging for the fence, lucky he got a strike".
Pearl Jam sound content, and usually that's the kiss of death to a rock band. Those waiting for another record as challenging as 'Vitalogy' will be left disappointed. But 'Riot Act' is the sound of a band entering a powerful middle-age. They still deserve your attention.
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