Palatine High School's student news site.


Palatine High School's student news site.


Palatine High School's student news site.


Follow PHS Cutlass

Subscribe for the latest stories!

* indicates required
Translate this article into the following languages
Meet our Staff!

Nicole Lizak is a senior at Palatine High School that is very passionate about many things when it comes to health, nutrition, sports, and being healthy. She took journalism because she likes writing and...

Pearl Jam radiates powerful melodies and lyrics in “Dark Matter”

The album artwork is by Alexandr Gnezdilov and consist of a type of photography called Light Painting. (Courtesy of Republic Records)

American rock band Pearl Jam, most esteemed and known for its grunge style in the early 1990s, recently released its 12th studio album, “Dark Matter,” on April 19. “Dark Matter,” “Wreckage” and “Running” were the singles that were released. It was a glimpse of what the new album entailed.

Since the album’s release, “Dark Matter” made No. 1 on numerous charts, such as U.K. Rock & Metal Albums (OCC) and U.S. Top Rock & Alternative Albums (Billboard).

The track list consists of 11 songs, with the entirety of the album being about 48 minutes and 20 seconds.

Graphic created by Siomara Valdez. Photo credit: “Pearl Jam” by Man Alive! (“Pearl Jam” by Man Alive! is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

The band had its first recording sessions with record producer Andrew Watt back in February 2021. With the release of the album, Pearl Jam announced a 2024 world tour on Feb. 13 to fans from around the world.

The opener of the album, “Scared Of Fear,” starts off almost foreboding. Several seconds of build up not knowing what to expect, with the sudden change into the main melody of the guitars. The song lyrics start off with several rhetorical questions sung by Eddie Vedder.

“Oh, did I say something wrong? / Oh, did I walk out of step?”

As the song progresses with an upbeat melody, it soon switches with more perspective as Vedder begins singing as if he wants to admit a hard truth.

“Why must I be compelled to admit defeat? Oh, you’re hurting yourself, it’s plain to see / I think you’re hurting yourself just to hurt me”

As someone who grew up with many tunes by Pearl Jam, it was a different feel from many of older songs on “Ten” or “Vitalogy.” Vedder sings with emotion and intensity which makes each song, even on the new album, more emotional. His vocals only make each song better.

The second song in the track list, “React, Respond,” is my personal favorite on the album. While I was listening to this song for the very first time, I didn’t expect the powerful sound coming from the guitars. It didn’t feel like your average Pearl Jam tune but it did not disappoint either. With a driving tempo and quick lyrics, they interweb with the rhythms coming from the various riffs happening in the background.

“Don’t react, respond / Don’t react, respond / When what you get is what you don’t want”

As Vedder sings the chorus of the song, with each “Don’t react, respond,” it only gets more incanting as the bass riff contrasts with his vocals. There is a lot of drive and impulse in this song, especially throughout the first verse of the song. It is a different style, but that is what makes this song unique.

“Upper Hand” is the sixth song on the tracklist. The first minute of the song has an uplifting, powerful climax before it transitions into the first verse.

“The distance to the end / Is closer now that it’s ever been / The road we traveled far / All the lights and sights we saw”

The beginning feels like something is coming to an end. The style is much slower than “React, Respond,” with Vedder dragging the last words in each lyric. It feels almost depressing because there is that sense of hopelessness and that nothing matters. Vedder sings with dynamics, either getting quieter or louder with certain words.

“The lines, once defined, getting blurry now / And I hope the people are smiling / Oh, how I always wanted to be like one of them / Oh, I apologize, so sorry ‘bout the timing”

With these particular words, there is the narrative being painted that someone is at their lowest point and needs someone to help them back on their feet. There is the sight that other people are experiencing the world in color, smiling, while Vedder is losing sight of the color around him. As the song progresses to the resolution, the guitar riffs become faster as he starts yelling out, “Oh, help carry me home, yeah / Carry me / Carry me home.” The song ends with a sense of hope of coming back up again. It feels like this isn’t just it in life. With all the gray feelings that one might experience, there is that chance to find happiness, whether it is from support of others or maybe even looking at life in a different way. It brings into the light from darkness what a human can experience. No matter how we feel, we are still human.

Those songs stood out to me the most as a long time Pearl Jam enjoyer because of how different and unique each song is. Alongside with many bands that have released new albums, such as Foo Fighters’ most recent release of  “But Here We Are,” not all bands are going to stick with tones they had back in the ’90s through early 2000s. There was a different message back then versus the message in the present day.

“Dark Matter” is a recommencement and continuation of Pearl Jam through powerful yet profound lyrics. With songs written in the past such as “Jeremy” or “Black,” Vedder isn’t afraid to share the important message through music. The influence of current politics and the thought to remind us we are human is what makes me admire Vedder’s song writing.

Through the album, we see the darkness but the light that radiates through each song. We feel the emotion and connect our own experiences, both bad and good to the songs. The way the band portrays that message in this album is what sticks out to me as a long time listener and fan.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Siomara Valdez
Siomara Valdez, Sports & Photography Editor

Siomara Valdez is a senior at Palatine High School. Valdez is very passionate about photography as it is a hobby of theirs. Valdez went out of their comfort zone to take on new opportunities in photography becoming the color guard photographer for the season. Valdez is a big fan of the band Foo Fighters and wants to one day photograph at one of their concerts. They got recruited into Cutlass at Chipotle and went to the meetings in hopes to improve their photography. After high school, Valdez wants to pursue mass communications as their career and continue photojournalism at Winona State University.

Comments (1)

All Cutlass Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • D

    DONALD M. PASTRECKMay 13, 2024 at 2:33 am

    “SMILE”, WE’VE, I’VE DONE IT. “EV” is still trying to help us?
    NOW with his song titles like “QUICK ESCAPE”. EVEN the album name “DARK MATTER*!! WHERE we going as HUMANS!! IT goes on and on….