Pearl Jam - Riot Act
In 1992, Pearl Jam arrived on the scene with Ten, a blindingly successful metallic rock album that turned the Seattle slackers into overnight stars. A decade is an awful long time in pop music, however - and Riot Act sounds like the work of an entirely different band, a hauntingly downbeat set that reflects Eddie Vedder's growing unease with the state of modern America. And while the shortcomings of the President himself are given a good going over in the vicious 'Bushleager', these days Vedder is increasingly choosing to express himself in the kind of cryptic, semi-mystical language so beloved by Michael Stipe. It could so easily have fallen flat on its face - but instead, much of the time it works, thanks to the band's skilful, expansive arrangements and a musical backing that's far closer to art-rock than traditional grunge. They'll probably never quite recapture the commercial heights they once enjoyed, but this intriguing record proves that artistically Pearl Jam are as relevant as ever.
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