His Dark Matters

Pearl Jam's latest album matters
His Dark Matters

Twas the night before an iPad event. Coming out of a UK Bank Holiday weekend. Screw it, time to post some random thoughts on Pearl Jam's Dark Matter.

A few weeks and dozens of listens into it now, I can officially say I truly love this Pearl Jam album. The band has been my favorite for 30 years, so I'm always going to like what they put out there. But I honestly can't remember the last time I had one of their records in such heavy rotation. Maybe the Avocado album. But that was just a different era – 2006 – where CDs, and thus, albums, still mattered.

I think I'd have to go back to Yield or No Code to find an album that hit me like this one. And there again, it was not only a different era, but I was a very different person. Namely, a very angsty teenager for both of those records. Now I'm in my 40s. Most of Pearl Jam are either in or near their 60s.

That's related to my main takeaway here though: this is perhaps the most-comfortable-in-their-own-skin Pearl Jam I can ever recall hearing. You'd hope that would be the case given their ages and the band's longevity. But it feels like they've found a groove here, so to speak. Dark Matter isn't trying to reinvent nor recreate Pearl Jam. It's just Pearl Jam, one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, in 2024, doing what they do.

I'm sort of surprised, to be honest. Musical acts normally have relatively short shelf lives for their best musical output for a number of reasons. But sometimes, just sometimes, if they stay around long enough, they come back around to combine their skills once again with public taste. I believe that's the case here.

Dark Matter is, in my mind a top 5 Pearl Jam album. Where exactly in there, only much more time will tell. It's probably impossible to top the pure nostalgia of the first three albums. But this music is really compelling in a different, more mature way. That's not a slight. It's a huge compliment.

A few thoughts, track-by-track:

“Scared of Fear”

  • What an opening — Sean Penn hitting the cue ball?!
  • It’s almost like a country song to start
  • But then it’s very classic Pearl Jam
  • Great chorus “we used to laugh...”
  • Strong guitar solo 2 mins in

“React, Respond”

  • Almost sounds like a Vs outtake
  • But more melodic
  • The chorus goes hard, driving


  • Honestly just beautiful
  • A more mature Pearl Jam can do this song
  • Probably the strongest overall track
  • Just great guitar riff and hook
  • Longing feeling
  • “Visited by thoughts and not just in the night. I no longer give a fuck who is wrong and who is right.”

“Dark Matter”

“Won’t Tell”

  • Amazing opening
  • A very different Pearl Jam song.
  • At first I didn’t love it due to the chorus – too prog rock? – but it grows on you... and now it's one of my favorite tracks, guitar riff is so strong
  • It’s a big song, but not like other Pearl Jam songs
  • The crescendo is great

“Upper Hand”

  • Almost U2-like to start?
  • But it then kicks into a lounge song…
    • almost 2 minutes in!
  • Blues-y?
  • Classic PJ to end

“Waiting for Stevie”

  • Elements of classic PJ, but also a more mature Pearl Jam song that again, indicates a band comfortable in its older skin.
  • Great guitar riff.
  • Great chant.
  • Soars.
  • Battling with "Wreckage" for strongest song here
  • Great backstory too.


  • Very punk PJ
  • A whole 2:19 long
  • “Cause we left the fucking water running”
  • Drums.
  • Will be great live – maybe at a Super Bowl?

“Something Special”

  • Basically the opposite of “Running”
  • Elements of an Eddie Vedder solo song
  • Melodic and just nice
  • Clearly about Vedder's daughters
  • Almost “Last Kiss”-y?

“Got to Give”

  • A really layered song
  • Maybe the best musically of any of the tracks?
  • A really mature Vedder singing this
    • "Getting to the point, got nothing to sing"
  • Pay-off at the end with the title

“Setting Sun”

  • Perhaps the best closing song PJ has ever done
  • "I wait on the porch" – nice.
  • Great great great. Builds and builds. Perfect closer.