Pearl Jam's 'Dark Matter': A Stellar Return to Form


June 12, 2024 - 751 views

Pearl Jam is back with their twelfth studio album, "Dark Matter," released on April 19, 2024, through Monkeywrench Records and Republic Records.

The band recorded "Dark Matter" at the famous Shangri-La studio in Malibu, California, and at Watt's home studio. This album is particularly notable because it features contributions from Josh Klinghoffer, who joined the band on their 2022–2023 Gigaton Tour. Klinghoffer, previously the guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, brings a fresh energy to Pearl Jam's sound.

Unlike their last album, "Gigaton" (2020), which took years to complete through scattered sessions, "Dark Matter" was created in a more collaborative, fast-paced environment. This return to a five-piece setup has resulted in a tight, cohesive album that feels both urgent and finely crafted.

I have to admit, when Pearl Jam first hit the scene in the '90s, I wasn't immediately on board. Grunge was a big departure from the melodic rock of the '80s that I loved. But over the years, I've come to appreciate the band's artistry, especially guitarist Mike McCready's work. Now, 33 years after "Ten," I find myself genuinely drawn to "Dark Matter." The album is filled with well-written, well-produced tracks that manage to capture the essence of Pearl Jam's classic sound while feeling fresh and modern.

Listening to "Dark Matter," I can easily imagine these songs fitting into the '90s grunge era, but they also have a contemporary twist that keeps them relevant. Surprisingly, as someone who was only a moderate fan during Pearl Jam's heyday, I'm more excited about this album than I expected. Pitchfork's Zach Schonfeld gave it "measured praise," but we both agree that "Wreckage" is one of the band's best songs in over 20 years. Personally, I think "Won’t Tell" might just be my favorite Pearl Jam song ever.

"Dark Matter" shows that Pearl Jam can still evolve while staying true to their roots. It's an album that will resonate with longtime fans and new listeners alike. I'm thrilled to add these songs to my playlist and can't wait to see where Pearl Jam goes next. This album reaffirms their place in rock history and proves they still have plenty to say.

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