I think we can all agree that Pearl Jam has never been a predictable band. Perhaps Vitalogy was their most erratic record, but all each of the band’s ten albums have left fans guessing what the next song is going to sound like, and none of the songs that have preceded it ever give you any clue.
When I was a younger fan of the band’s music, this disjointedness bothered me, but three decades in I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s not that they are not just one band, but many bands with the same members.
That being so, I’m always anxious to hear what each album’s first single is going to sound like. Might it be a contemplative piece like “I Am Mine,” from 2002’s Riot Act, a thrash tune like “World Wide Suicide,” from 2006’s eponymous release, or a punk number, like “Mind Your Manners,” from 2013’s Lightning Bolt?
Recently, with their eleventh album, Gigaton, slated to be released on March 27th, my wondering began again.
I’ll be honest, if I’d have had to bet, I would have put my money on a punk tune. I may be wrong about this, but it has seemed to me that they’ve delved into the punk realm more in these latter days of their career; even if they haven’t, I see them now as more of a punk band than I did in their first ten or 15 years of existence.
Whatever the tune turned out to be, I knew I would at least learn to love it. No matter what type of music they’re playing, no matter which band shows up, there are very few PJ songs I haven’t grown to love, and I’m a fan of all their first singles.
What I wouldn’t have been betting on for the first offering off this latest set was a funk song. In fact, Pearl Jam, the funk band, isn’t one that I can recall in all of their incarnations. Yet, that’s the guys who showed up when it came time to make this song, “Dance of the Clairvoyants.”
There have already been a lot of comparisons between Eddie’s work here and that of David Byrne, and, man, if you’re channeling David Byrne, I’m all about it.
And I’m glad they did. I may not love this song as much as I’m going to in time, but I already love it a good bit.
Here’s some new Pearl Jam, kids; hope you’re as jazzed about it as I am.
And here’s one of my favorite old Pearl Jam songs, “Rats,” from the band’s second album Vs. This song also has some funky elements.