Review Summary: Control Myself, CHAPTER 7: “A Texas Leaguer…”
Pearl Jam themselves have never proclaimed comebacks as such but critical plaudit will often extend to rockist hyperbole when it comes to the release of a new Pearl Jam album. Records such as the middling Yield
and their forthcoming self-titled were hardly the most exciting of prospects, and given time to age they often wear off the hype very quickly. The odd exception to this rule however comes from what is potentially one of their most commercially unsuccessful records yet- the filthy grime and warts of Riot Act
Named after a form of martial law forbidding collusion as a conspiracy for terror, Riot Act
is an aurally political piece signifying frustration from the band after extended bouts of disaffection. Notably, it contains the strides into Marxist territory criticizing Bush-administration of “Bu$hleaguer”, a song rarely performed live for its controversial stances; a shame too, its prosaic croon and a threatening intent makes it one of the best songs in the Pearl Jam canon. On less straining counts, “Save You” and “Ghost” provide heavy doses of stoic musicianship still made specifically to avoid airwaves, armed wall-to-wall with skyscraper-sized riffs and a punishing dead eye. Any moment that does give way to tenderness- “Love Boat Captain”, for example- is met instantly with juxtaposing lyrical themes, in this case commenting on the unfortunate events that facilitated their shying away from the live environment at Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
Everything surrounding Riot Act
is so brilliantly concise that it is hard to believe the band had spent so long faltering like they did. Cataclysmically fused together with rough precision, the likes of “Cropduster”, minimal and ethereal “I Am Mine” and the crushingly hooky “Green Disease” see Pearl Jam master an art they’ve gone so long failing at. Finally, pretentious preconceptions are laid to rest and the band master the craft of both art rock depth and hard rock naivety.
is to this day the most underappreciated of all of Pearl Jam’s albums. Not containing a single hit or deep cut that doesn’t automatically provoke irrational amounts of hate, Riot Act
is still a strong release filled with tightly written songs. Pearl Jam would go on something of a hiatus after this albums release, with their 2006 return providing not nearly enough energy or musicianship to keep it running- Riot Act
in that sense was really but one of a kind.
NEXT: “I Ain’t Ever Going Back Again…”