Pearl Jam
Dark Matter


3.5
great

Review

by doofy USER (29 Reviews)
April 25th, 2024 | 21 replies


Release Date: 04/19/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Serious Matter

There’s nothing more suspicious than a claimed ‘late career return to form album’ and we’ve witnessed more than a few of these recently, most notably from the Rolling Stones and Foo Fighters. While both those releases were perfectly fine and justified their existences beyond that I really wasn’t convinced; getting to know those albums still took a lot of good will and frequently felt like homework.

So what of Pearl Jam, a band now twelve albums deep and who’ve probably been operating in the semi wilderness ever since they released a self titled album where they admitted to identifying as an avocado. Well, album numero eleven, ‘Gigaton’, was cruelly dubbed a ‘gigaflop’, like one of those summer blockbusters that actually loses the film studio money and leaves the cinema in the blink of an eye. A jumbo Mars bar for anyone who can hum a song from that one from memory {places Mars bar safely back into coat pocket and pats it}.

My first impressions of ‘Dark Matter’ were that it was more immediate than its predecessor but could fall into the same trap as ‘Backspacer’ where a certain disposable feel would eventually torpedo any depth or longevity. This remained the state of play for the next few return visits, and then something most unexpected happened…I started anticipating my next listen. The impossible had come to pass; I’d found myself choosing to return to a new Pearl Jam for reasons of unbridled enjoyment.

As with most great rock albums ‘Dark Matter’ knows to start strong and the first five songs are a well sequenced run, like an upgrade on the similarly bold opening stretch of the aforementioned ‘Backspacer’. The opener boasts strong Vedder vocals and an upbeat throwback feel without overcooking it; ‘React, Respond’ is hands down one of the band’s most fun uptempo numbers with a genuine feel of mania to it; ‘Wreckage’ is an effortless sounding ballad that works as a showcase for the trademark Vedder bleat we all love; ‘Dark Matter’ is the track that most aims for a more ‘modern’ take on rock which equates to them beating Royal Blood at a similar game; and ‘Won’t Tell’ is a radio play courting singalong with a soaring quality to the chorus and bridge.

The second half of the album is patchier but the quality doesn’t fall off a cliff, and more than that, two of the very best songs are saved for later in the form of the ‘emotional heart’ of the record that’s ’Waiting for Stevie’, and the expected well judged atmospheric closer ‘Setting Sun’. ‘Running’ was selected as a single and while not one of PJ’s most memorable punk numbers it does add some thrust to ‘Side B’. ‘Got to Give’ is a more than pleasant ‘by the numbers’ would-be anthem of the sort the band have specialised in from the very start, and if the sing-song’y and somewhat fluffy ‘Something Special’ is the low point of this set then really that’s not so low a basement to contend with.

A resounding triumph from whatever angle you look at it, ‘Dark Matter’ is the comeback special that shows why fans of ‘long past their best’ acts will always cling to that flicker of hope in their hearts; after at least four false dawns this is the real deal.



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user ratings (115)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Raul Stanciu STAFF (3.6)
The band seems to enjoy playing together again....

related reviews

Ten

Vs.

Binaural

Vitalogy


Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofDoof
April 25th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Imagine writing a Pearl Jam review in 2024

onionbubs
April 25th 2024


21542 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

solid album/review. def their best in my lifetime



i did love that foo album tho lol it for sure has this beat imo. it's kind of their only album i love back to front but i recognize thats a weird take

SitarHero
April 25th 2024


14758 Comments


"late career return to form album"

Wait, did they have a period where they weren't boring and I missed it? xD

JK, I haven't liked anything they've done since Vs but I'm glad for the fans that they've put in a strong showing this late in the game.

DoofDoof
April 25th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bubs - yeah, I wasn’t really shitting on the Stones or Foos albums, they’re decent as latter career albums go but I think this is better than that.



I wouldn’t rate this too far behind ‘Vs’, ‘No Code’ or ‘Yield’ (all 3.5 albums for me).



If this album had followed Yield I think it would have been a big hit, far more successful than Binaural



This album art actually looks like it swallowed the Binaural art!

zakalwe
April 25th 2024


39505 Comments


Nah. The wave had been ridden.
Grunge was long dead, the popularity had waned and people had moved on. It was all Kid A, t’internet, Eminem and Limp Bizcuit

DoofDoof
April 25th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sitar - yeah PJ are a bit normie and muso but we like it that way.



Think they alienated a lot of rock fans when they so obviously declared their love for Springsteen, Young and Fugazi in their music - some peeps will always prefer the ‘Ten’ sound.



To be fair this album has moments that remind me of ‘Ten’ or ‘Vs’ - the lead guitar work is a throwback to that era at times.

DoofDoof
April 25th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Zak - a comparative huge hit ;)



Binaural was very very slow and thoughtful and I think a lot of people hopped off at that point whereas this is pretty much a logical continuation of Yield with more of an eye on radio play maybe.



Dunno, it would have kept them less ‘established fans only’ for one more album. Maybe.

Everville2205
April 25th 2024


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I for once don't know what people are expecting after 12 albums from men pushing into their 60s now. Ten, Vs, Vitalogy were amazing but they moved on. No code gave me more excitement and proved they could give much more than angst and that they were in this for the sheer discovery of new facets and directions of their music.

They stayed true to themselves again and gave the best they could at this given moment. The fact that this record came as good and joyful is a testament to their abilities and experience. From my POV it's not a perfect record but they all sound and perfom really good. Even Eddie sounds better than expected.



Also Binaural, with the b sides they released, is for me the best era of the band. Sad, Fatal, Strangest Tribe, Education, in the moonlight are some of their best songs. So underated...

DoofDoof
April 25th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Strangest Tribe is a good one, just listened to Lost Dogs for the first time yesterday



Binaural...there's a lot of what I regard as 'lumpen rockers' on that album, not my favourite in terms of 'Pearl Jam the rock band'.



I quite like some of the more experimental and softer songs on that one though sure.



If I wanted to completely dismiss Binaural in one statement I'd say Vitalogy pretty much does everything that that album attempts only significantly better and almost a decade earlier.

claygurnz
April 25th 2024


7609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only good rocker on Binaural is Insignificance imo, but yeah some of the soft songs are really good.

onionbubs
April 25th 2024


21542 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i did not know there were cool binaural b sides lfg will dive

Everville2205
April 25th 2024


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't mind the rockers there, breakerfall, god's dice and insignificance are great. It's more of a moodier and expiremental album that after Yield, loved that aslo, appreciated that went into a different direction, although i've learned to love that album and era as i grew older.



On this album now, waiting for stevie, sounds like a light lost Badmortofinger tune. The melody from Eddie, great as it is, begs the voice from Chris. Even the drums carry a different gravitas from the rest of the songs.

Everville2205
April 25th 2024


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Scared of Fear starts with an intro akin to Ten, the break after the first solo is also remiscent of Ten again, before the finish throws us a Rearviemirror sent off. Brilliant and a great opener as any of their records. I just wish the production overall was a little beefier but you can't have it all...

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2024


27993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

nice one!

RogueNine
April 26th 2024


5601 Comments


Gimme that Mars bar! I'll sing you Superblood right now.

DoofDoof
April 26th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ha, I thought I’d get at least one taker!

babyboss
April 30th 2024


4 Comments


I really want to like this more, it's just some of the production that is off-putting. I really wish they would go back to the naturalistic sound of No Code and Yield. Speaking strictly of sounds here, all the /songs/ are pretty damn good and it's nice to hear McCready and Matt Cameron rip a little more. I just wish they were doing it on a looser and less compressed album.

StonedManatee
April 30th 2024


557 Comments


I live for Doof’s reviews.

BaloneyPony
May 9th 2024


601 Comments


Sick ass review.

DoofDoof
May 10th 2024


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers Manatee and Pony (sounds like an animal vs battle)



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