These last few years I honestly began to wonder whether PJ would ever record another new album. It feels like an eternity since their 2013 release Lightning Bolt. Though, in truth, anything they put out commercially is a bonus these days. I can’t begrudge what pleasure they have given me over my lifetime. You know what? With their place already forever etched in music history, and on the memories and eardrums of a generation, as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, really what more do they have to prove!? But it does make for a nice surprise when you hear all the rumours that they were in the recording studio these last few years and a new album was imminent. That said, PJ announced earlier this month the welcomed news of their forthcoming 11th studio album, Gigaton. We will, of course, have to wait until the end of March for its release, but in the meantime the band shared the first single from their upcoming album called Dance of the Clairvoyants to the excitement of music enthusiasts across the globe.
The initial gut reaction from critics and fans has been overwhelmingly positive. That said, I tweeted my approval of Eddie Vedder channelling the late great David Bowie vocally on Dance of the Clairvoyants. Important, I also said I loved the new direction the band was heading musically. In truth, bassist Jeff Ament had already earlier a few days ago confirmed all our suspicions when he said: “‘Dance’ was a perfect storm of experimentation and real collaboration, mixing up the instrumentation and building a great song, and Ed writing some of my favorite words yet, around Matt’s killer drum pattern. Did I mention Mike’s insane guitar part and that Stone is playing bass on this one? We’ve opened some new doors creatively and that’s exciting.”
Interestingly, when a friend of mine, Kelly Konda @ We Minored In Film, earlier today reiterated his approval of ‘Clairvoyants’, saying it had him “psyched for the new tour but also the album”, I knew we as fans were in for a real treat. While we agreed to disagree on a few things, particularly the bridge or lack of thereof, and Kelly hearing a “more of a Talking Heads vibe from the vocals” and “a Artic Monkeys meets wall of sound from the music”, it’s safe to say we both agreed Pearl Jam’s experimentalism was still inspiring, something that goes back to their early days with albums like No Code and Binaural. Moreover, it will definitely be interesting to hear ‘Clairvoyants’ in the context of the rest of the new album, and whether critics and fans alike will stick to their first impressions of it.
Vocally, I can’t get enough of what Kelly refers to as Vedder’s David Brynes, it’s energetic and rousing. Musically, I wonder whether (at least on this track) PJ have hit on a winning formula incorporating a dance feel; or has PJ simply taken the successful leap of bands like Imagine Dragons in how we see rock ‘n’ roll today? If anything I love the boogie feel of it. But I think I’ll let my film aficionado friend sum up something that we both really liked, but which Kelly really hit the nail on the head with his comment to me earlier today. He said “…letting Stone (Gossard) play a funky bass line that sounds like what would have happened if The Stokes had written The Offspring’s Self Esteem?” Fuck yeah, Pearl Jam! You cats ain’t dead yet.”