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(Album Review) PEARL JAM - Dark Matter (Monkeywrench)

Review by Joe B

Why am I writing a Pearl Jam review for The Mighty Decibel ? Because they are an important band in the history of hard rock. The Seattle scene was a welcome departure from the crappy pop rock bands defined frequently as hair metal.

Dark Matter is Pearl Jam’s 12th studio album. Andrew Watt produced the latest release, coming off  a great job with The Rolling Stones. I like The Stone’s Hackney Diamonds a lot, and I like Dark Matter just as much, if not more. Watt is now well known for injecting old bands with new energy by creating a hybrid of new tunes and flickers of old tropes and riffs from the bands’ past

When the pre-release of the title track came out a few months back, there was talk that this would be a return to the glory days of Pearl Jam’s first two albums. While I liked the track upon release, I just couldn’t agree with this assessment. That was until I gave it a few listens and realized that Andrew Watt unleashed one of my favorite guitarists, Mike McCready.

McCready is great throughout the entire album and plays leads that we have not heard in 25 years. Watt gets fine performances from Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron as well. Unfortunately, these fine musical performances are neutralized by Eddie Vedder’s awful vocals.

“React, Respond” and “Running” are fine hard rocking tunes to accompany the title track, but do not come close to the glory days of the early 90’s. “Waiting For Stevie” does. It is the best song Pearl Jam has written in over 25 years. It has a main riff that is reminiscent of classic Cult and once again, features Mike McCready at his best. Even Vedder’s weak vocals do not ruin this masterpiece. The rest of Dark Matter has some fine easy listening songs. “Wreckage” has a Tom Petty feel and “Upper Hand” is a mix of modern rock and classic leads from the early days of Pearl Jam. The last three songs on the album are quite forgettable.

3 out of 5 stars


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