Riot Act

Riot Act

Riot Act continues Pearl Jam’s quiet stealth streak of quality hard rock albums that exist beneath the radar. Once the world’s most popular hard rock band, Pearl Jam has since settled upon being one of the world’s largest cult bands, playing music that rarely attempts to communicate beyond its targeted audience of hardcore music enthusiasts. Though Eddie Vedder possesses the firepower of a true arena rock singer, he just as often prefers to turn inward and express himself from the deeper recesses of his soul. It’s no accident that the album begins with the inward-pointing “Can’t Keep” where the sound holds to an unsettling quiet despite its potential aggressions. “Save You” follows with a broader sweep, but even with drummer Matt Cameron slamming these songs into place and Mike McCready and Stone Gossard cranking up their amps, the songs retain a private mystery. “Bu$hleaguer” works up the band’s political conscience. “I Am Mine” balances the band’s rock ego with a chilling elliptical melody. At this rate, Pearl Jam is sincerely building up its reputation as rock’s most overlooked band in broad daylight.

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