Ezy Reading: The Cud Music Review - Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam (2006)

Evan Kanarakis

From the stand-up-and-take-notice, guitar-crunching riffs of the opener ‘Life Wasted’, through to the thoughtful, hopeful strains of ‘Inside Job’ at the album’s end, and on everything in between, Pearl Jam, the self-titled latest release from the Seattle lads is undoubtedly their strongest release in years, even as their more recent, experimental efforts, Binaural (2000) and Riot Act (2002) were arguably well underrated by the critics and fans alike.

Pearl Jam have never been afraid to take musical risks, nor have they been afraid to share their thoughts on what they see as the troubles of the world, and this is certainly an album that gives eloquent expression to their anger, frustration, melancholy and hopes in this recent era of political and other upheaval.

But even beyond what is an incisive and powerful commentary about the current war in Iraq, and a stronger return to Eddie Vedder’s storytelling, narrative roots of old, this is an album that perhaps makes its biggest statement to those aforementioned critics of the band who had declared Pearl Jam musically well-past their due-date two or three albums ago. There’s more out-and-out rock and roll here than perhaps since 1998’s Yield- consider their first single from the album, ‘World Wide Suicide’, already mentioned ‘Life Wasted’, the punk anglings of ‘Comatose’ and a thumping ode to surfing, ‘Big Wave’.

But balance and softer hues are here as well, and ‘Parachutes’ is a Lennonesque composition that will stand comfortably next to any of the band’s greatest, most beloved standards in years to come.

Yes, Messrs Vedder, McCready, Gossard, Ament and Cameron still have something important to say that elevates them beyond the rabble and throng, but in a busy year for new albums from some of rock’s biggest acts, Pearl Jam will undoubtedly go down as one of the strongest, most enjoyable rock and roll albums of 2006.

Pearl Jam have spoken, and it’s that in rock and roll they are very much ‘still Alive’…

*Please Note: While the author will happily concede that he is a rabid, committed, Pearl Jam devotee and has just written a biased, glowing review of the band’s new release, he would like to offer an assurance to all those nay sayers out there that this album is strong, is consistently strong from start to end, and it well and truly motherfucking ROCKS.

Ezy Reading is out every Monday.