.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/470b4465cd624963de7c3542fa1afa8410798981.jpg Riot Act

Pearl Jam

Riot Act

Sony Music Distribution
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3 0
November 4, 2002

For Eddie Vedder, rock radio must seem like a fun-house mirror, a medium in which the most easily caricatured aspects of his vexed bellow are distorted by the Scott Stapps of the world into messianic bombast. You can't blame the guy for feeling the need to chill out. On Riot Act, Vedder cautiously mutters his vocals as though a baby is asleep in the next room. Even when he takes a swipe at the "Bush Leaguer" in the Oval Office, he sounds too weary to work up the contempt he finds the president so far beneath.

Despite some clever sonic choices — Stone Gossard's guitar imitates a malfunctioning modem on "Wanted to Get Right," and Achtung Baby delay effects are sprinkled throughout — the band has eschewed the experimental tweaks producer Tchad Blake brought to 2000's Binaural. The familiarity of this straightforward tumble sounds tired — the musicians struggle to put their backs and hearts into the Mudhoney-ish rocker "Save You." But like Neil Young at his most deliberately despondent, Pearl Jam sound purposefully tired. Songs such as "Can't Keep" fall subtly into their choruses rather than explode into anthems because Vedder and his mates are too honest to indulge in the showboating of today's power balladeers. Anyone can fake a heroic stand in the studio. It's more challenging to quietly voice your need to take a step back.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bizness”

    Tune-Yards | 2011

    The opening track to Merrill Garbus’ second album under the Tune-Yards banner (she also plays in the trio Sister Suvi), “Bizness” is a song about relationships that is as colorful as the face paint favored by Garbus both live and in her videos. Disjointed funk bass, skittering African beats, diced-and-sliced horns and Garbus’ dynamic voice, which ranges from playful coos to throat-shredding howls, make “Bizness” reminiscent of another creative medium. “I'd like for them not to be songs as much as quilts or collages or something,” Garbus said.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com