Sound — 9
Pearl Jam's 7th studio album. The end result is Riot Act, 55 minutes of musical extravaganza. Pearl Jam have always been at the forefront of the grunge movement, and all that contains, but as they are getting older (sorry to be cliche), their sound is developing hugely. The angst-ridden track or 2 is still there (Save You, Get Right), but overall, a new sound is emerging. The album is generally quite rock-based, but does expand and touch new ground. Tracks such as "You Are" is fantastic, with a guitar routed through a drum machine to get one hell of a sound. Pearl Jam also welcome the addition of Boom Gaspar on the organ to add depth to songs, such as "Love Boat Captain". A key thing is that Eddie Vedder did not write all the songs, as he has been to known to before, which leads to many different styles being incorporated, such as Cropduster, written by Matt Cameron on drums, sounding like nothing they've ever done before. This is always a good thing.
Lyrics — 10
Eddie Vedder is a legendary musician. His work is known all throughout music, and his trademark baritone has never been duplicated, and never will be, in my opinion. The other reviewer said Eddie didnt bring his A game for Riot Act. This is debateable, but could be a true statement. Some of the lyrics lack the vivid imagery from earlier albums such as "Ten" and "Vs," but the music complements the lyrics superbly. Tracks such as the beautiful "Thumbing My Way" clearly show the emotion in Vedders voice, and this can be heard every time. Pearl Jam went through a difficult stage in their career before this, following the Rosklide tragedy, in which 9 fans were crushed to death during a festival slot by the band. Vedder references these on "Love Boat Captain" by saying "Lost 9 friends we'll never know, 2 years ago today". Now that I think about it, the lyrics to this song are incredibly powerful. I'm changing my mind while writing this. lol. An intstrumental called "Arc" was the result of trying to write something for the victims families. Its a beautifully, haunting sample of Ed looping his voice 9 seperate times and overdubbing. Another gem of a song is "I am Mine", written before the bands first concert back after Rosklide. It's a very moving piece about personal safety. Riot Act is incredible. It proves less is more sometimes.
Overall Impression — 9
If you want an intro to Pearl Jam, head back to the legendary "Ten" or "Vs." Riot is a slighyl more mature effort, but still has all the features making a PJ album great. I recommend the tracks "Save You," "I Am Mine," "Thumbing My Way," "Love Boat Captain" and the superb rocking anthem "Green Disease." There are some not so good tracks, such as "Help, Help," which plods and struggles and goes nowhere really. "1/2 Full" showcases Mike McCready's superb guitar ability, and then there is the infamous "Bushleaguer." A scathing attack on Dubya, Vedder "sings" in a sarcastic voice, which can grate and get boring. Musically, its superb, and you can tell Vedder is being sarcastic by listening to the song live. This album is never to far away from my CD, and if it was lost or stolen, I would probably congratulate the stealer on choosing such a good ablum to grab, then get it back, and wouldnt hesitate to buy again. If I had to give one negative comment about Riot Act, its that there isnt a standout track. Theres not a song such as "Alive" or "Go" or "Betterman" that makes you want to get up and jump. It's a more relaxed album, but not to say bad. If you want to jump around to PJ, this probably isn't the record. But if you want an incredible album of great music and well structured songs, you just read about it. Go buy!