Listening Post: New Pearl Jam

The new Pearl Jam single is one of the most accessible tracks the group has released in years, with a couple of hooks so established and poppy that it's almost shocking it's coming from a band as notoriously defiant of convention as Pearl Jam.
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The new Pearl Jam single is one of the most accessible tracks the group has released in years, with a couple of hooks so established and poppy that it's almost shocking it's coming from a band as notoriously defiant of convention as Pearl Jam.
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While Pearl Jam remains a powerful and vital force in rock music, I don't think they've ever come close to replicating what they did on Ten and Vs. in the two decades since. I'm not just talking about record sales here, I'm talking about songwriting skill. I'm one of the few people who's still underwhelmed by most of Vitalogy, and everything released by the band since has had flashes of brilliance and a whole lot of filler, in direct contrast to the steady stream of great material on Pearl Jam's first two albums.

That said, the upcoming record, Lightning Bolt, should be interesting. The first single from it was a giant helping of raw fury, with Eddie Vedder screaming his guts out, which is something we've heard the band do more than once over the last several records. But the second release from it is exactly the opposite in terms of tone: it's one of the most accessible tracks the group has released in years, with a couple of hooks so established and poppy that it's almost shocking it's coming from a band as notoriously defiant of convention as Pearl Jam.

Here's Sirens.