During the 1990s, there were few rockers who embodied the era's ethos more than Eddie Vedder. As the lead singer and guitarist of Pearl Jam, Vedder was a spokesperson for a generation of young angst and rebellion. As Bruce Springsteen before him, Vedder championed the working class, disenfranchised peoples, took populist political stances, and penned emotional, existential ballads.
With his third solo album, Earthling, Vedder steps away from the comfort of the familiar, to embrace the continuation of his solo career. At 57-years-old, the question remains on how Veddar can remain anti-establishment as part of rock-and-roll royalty.
During Pearl Jam’s prime, Vedder and his band were hanging out with Dennis Rodman, the provocateur of the NBA, as pop-cultural punks. On Earthling, Vedder is jamming with Stevie Wonder, Ringo Starr, and Elton John.
On “Picture,” Vedder and John collaborate on a piano-driven country ditty, returning the favor from when Vedder was featured on John’s “E-Ticket” last year. Ringo Starr joins him on the Beatles simulacrum, “Mrs. Mills,” which sounds like a Beatles echo while.
Where has all the rage gone? Outside of movie soundtracks, Vedder hasn’t released a solo album since 2011. Since then, the musical landscape has shifted in broader ways than perhaps any other decade of the last half-century. 808 drum machines can be found in almost every genre of music. The biggest performers in the world blend rap and R&B, including K-Pop and Bad Bunny. The album’s backing band—Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, former Chili Pepper guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and producer Andrew Watt on bass surround Vedder with competence and pop accessibility, creating a record that is both digestible and built for award season.