3 Must-Hear Tracks from Pearl Jam’s New Album ‘Dark Matter’

On Pearl Jam’s new album Dark Matter, the Seattle band is reborn in their own image.

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They worked with producer and songwriter Andrew Watt, who was 10 months old when Pearl Jam released Ten in 1991. Watt had worked with Eddie Vedder on his recent solo album Earthling (2022), and seemed to inspire the band to embrace who they are.

Dark Matter is a reflective and vulnerable album, and Watt—who’s also worked with Post Malone and Dua Lipa—adds a pop veneer to their reliable grunge.  

Below are three must-hear tracks from Pearl Jam’s 12th studio album.  


Following the post-punk experimentations on Gigaton, Pearl Jam returns to familiar territory on Dark Matter. “Wreckage” is for fans of “Daughter.” It’s a mid-tempo, rootsy Americana song, and the hook could describe the band’s survival. When Seattle’s bands emerged in the ’90s, they shifted culture. However, it’s shocking how many prominent musicians from the scene died tragically. Pearl Jam survived the storm, and they survived themselves. When Eddie Vedder sings, Holding out, holding on, he’s speaking from experience. Aren’t we all?

I’m needing for the light
Stormy is the grey
Rivers overflowing
Drowning all our yesterdays

Visited by thoughts
On another darkened week
How even every winner
Hits a losing streak

“Scared of Fear”

Pearl Jam albums work best when they deliver the obvious. No beating around the bush, no funny business. Just bring the classic rock grunge. The band’s foundation rests on Stone Gossard’s guitar riffs and Eddie Vedder’s words. Add in dashes of Jeff Ament’s sliding bass and Mike McCready’s Hendrix-by-way-of-SRV guitar shredding with Matt Cameron’s “Jesus Christ Pose” drumming and, voilá, Pearl Jam! Vedder has spent much of his career fighting against the band’s outsized stardom. The paradox is how easily he writes infectious pop choruses. “Scared of Fear” distills Vedder’s instinct for melody with conversational and emotionally wrought lyrics. The slow fade intro recalls how Pearl Jam entered on Ten.

You’re hurting yourself, it’s plain to see
I think you’re hurting yourself just to hurt me
We used to laugh, we used to sing
We used to dance; we had our own scene

“Waiting for Stevie”

Eddie Vedder’s solo album Earthling features an all-star lineup, including Stevie Wonder. However, on Wonder’s scheduled day to track, he arrived several hours late. While Vedder and Watt waited for him to show up, they began trading guitar riffs. Watt played first, and Vedder said he had a similar idea. They created a new riff by combining both ideas, which became the starting point for Pearl Jam’s “Waiting for Stevie.”

Though Stevie Wonder inspired the title, the song isn’t about him. Vedder explained to Howard Stern the song’s inspiration is music. He said, “It’s a song about being affected by music. And music changing your life, and maybe leading you to your tribe.” He said it connects to Stevie Wonder because his music has “that power.” For fans of Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly,” this one’s for you.

You can be loved by everyone
And still not feel, not feel love
You can relate but still can’t stop or conquer the fear
You are what you’re not

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