With the release of 1996's No Code
, Pearl Jam were beginning to out grow their messy "Grunge" sound that made them famous in the early nineties and began experimenting and trying new things in their music which saw them as a unique band, though they hinted that with Vitalogy. But also, they still had the signature rock sound of early days, but yet in ways different from material from their debut. Two albums and a few years later brings us to Riot Act
; the bands seventh studio album, released in 2002. Pearl Jam have gone through a number of drummers since Ten
, but in 1998 shortly after the release of Yield, former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron was hired to play as the full time drummer for PJ and made his debut on Binaural
and he appears on this album to make it his second as a member of the band. If you were to listen to Riot Act and then listen to Ten or other earlier releases, you will notice how much Pearl Jam have changed or evolved. The main difference being that Riot Act, for the most part, is more dark and dreary (musically and lyrically) but still a fair share of upbeat songs.
Eddie Vedder still has his signature voice and he demonstrates it well on this album, although as times it doesn't sound like he's giving the same energy as say...'Spin The Black Circle'
, still a good performance nontheless. His song writing abilities are top notch here, like they are the majority of the time. He sings some of his deepest lyrics yet, as he has showed us before on songs from previous albums like Release
. For example in the mellow rock song Love Boat Captain
where he sings about nine fans who died at a PJ show in Denmark in 2000. Eddie sings during the song: It's an art to live with pain, mix the light into grey/Lost 9 friends we'll never know, 2 years ago today; And if our lives became too long, would it add to our regret"
. Eddie also shares his political views on the song Bushleaguer
. During one of the verses Eddie sings: "A confidence man, but why so beleaguered"; He's not a leader, he's a Texas leaguer; Swinging for the fence, got lucky with a strike; Drilling for fear, makes the job simple; Born on third, thinks he got a triple"
. On the song, he explores his vocal range as he sings the verses noticeably deeper and then in the chorus, it hardly even sounds like himself, as it is even raspier than usual. Help, Help
again shows Eddie trying different things with this vocals, as he sings the song somewhat higher pitched, especially in the chorus.
As different as Riot Act may sound or may seem, Pearl Jam proves they still know how to rock hard with Save You
. The song is one of the more popular ones from the album as well as one of the best. From the opening sleek guitar riff to the pounding drumming of Cameron, this song is one of Pearl Jam's heaviest songs to date and in my opinion, definitely one of their best. 1/2 Full
is a hard rocking song with one of the best guitar performances on the album as McCready plays a very well done bluesy style solo. Get Right
are two more solid rock tracks with an all round solid performance from the band. Get Right
has an excellent solo for the best on the album and one of the best chorus's on the album with the backing vocals working very effectively. Ghost
has a very heavy riff that remains consistent throughout the song. Nothing especially stands out on the track but the guitar keeps it alive, making it one of the better ones on the album. Green Disease
is probably the most up beat song on the album once it gets to the verses. With its extremely quick drumming with Eddie's voice changing tempos all the time, this song is easily one of the best on the album as well as one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs. I Am Mine
is probably the most popular track off this record as it is easily recognizable even to non-fans of Pearl Jam. The song has an eerie opening guitar riff that lead into Eddie's calm vocals in the verse where he sings "I know I was born and I know I will die, but in between in mine; I am mine"
. The song gets more up beat in the chorus as Eddie sounds more like he is singing with more passion and emotion. Overall, simply one of the best on the album.
With Pearl Jam's earlier albums, they were known to put out a rocking first song (Once
, Last Exit
) but with Can't Keep
, Pearl Jam gives the impression that the album is going to be on the softer side of things, kind of like Sometimes
from No Code. The song remains calm the whole time with no real climax. It is not bad song, but in my opinion, not the greatest song it start the album off with. PJ gives its fair share of acoustic ballads and soft rock on the album, and for the most part, they are well done. Thumbing My Way
is an acoustic track with little to no drumming. Eddie songs the song quite well although at times it is difficult to comprehend what he is saying. It can kind of get repetitive, but still a nice, emotional song for the softest on the album. Cropduster
mixes acoustic and electric guitar and has the perfect blend between hard and soft rock. All or None
is the album finale is my probably the better of the acoustic tracks, although it is not one of Pearl Jam's best in my opinion, it is a good way to end off the album. It sounds very similar to Thumbing My Way but with a very mellow guitar solo and some piano, which separates it for the better from the other acoustic songs. Arc
is an odd song that shows Vedder's experimentation with his vocals. The minute long track is basically just Eddie belting out his voice layered over some deep backing vocals. The song sounds almost like a worhip song of some sort.
Pearl Jam's Riot Act may not be Pearl Jam's best effort, but not their worst either. This album has some of Pearl Jam's best songs but then it has some that just don't quite measure up. If you are a fan of Pearl Jam and still don't own this record, I recommend it, but if you are not too familiar with too much PJ's work I suggest getting Ten or Vs.
I Am Mine
All or None