Hell has apparently frozen over. Pigs have presumably taken wing. And don’t be surprised if monkeys fly out of your butt in short order. Yes, the once-impossible has finally and truly happened: Eddie Vedder has lightened the fuck up.
I shit thee not. Check out the ultra-serious Pearl Jam frontman’s fourth extracurricular solo outing if you don’t believe me. What you’ll hear is the sound of the middle-aged rock star doing something he has done far too infrequently over the past three decades: Enjoying himself. Earthlings, simply put, is the most accessible, approaching and likeable release of his career, with plenty of melodic tunes, slick production, an all-star band featuring current and former Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even a list of VIP guests that includes Ringo Starr, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
But before you forsake him and burn all your Pearl Jam albums, hang on: All this is not to suggest that the man who once graced the cover of Time beside the headline All The Rage has totally lost his mojo and his mind. There are still plenty of rip-roaring flannel-clad rockers on this 13-song set, along with plenty of lyrics that have plenty to say about our world and times. But this time, instead of heavy-handed preaching, Vedder seems content to speak his piece and move on to something lighter.
And often, something weirder — along with being his most commercial release, Earthlings is also his most adventurous and playful. You’ve got piano ballads, pop-punk firecrackers, superstar duets, even a jazzy psychedelic flight and a Tom Petty-ish roots cut. Between Eddie and Elton harmonizing, Stevie playing punk harmonica, Ringo thumping away on a Sgt. Pepperish orch-pop number, and Vedder belting “I’ll be onnn … myyyy … waaaaaaay!” like a last-call lounge lizard over swelling strings, it’s all enough to make a Pearl Jam fan’s head asplode. Just don’t get any on the monkeys.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Eddie Vedder’s highly anticipated new album Earthling was produced by Grammy winner Andrew Watt.
It is Vedder’s first album since 2011 Ukulele Songs and features members of his new solo band The Earthlings, which includes Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist (and former Chili Peppers member) Josh Klinghoffer, bassist Chris Chaney, guitarist/vocalist Glen Hansard and guitarist Andrew Watt. Earthling illuminates every side of Vedder and includes collaborations with some of music’s most iconic legends including Stevie Wonder, Ringo Starr, and Elton John.
Vedder has served as Pearl Jam’s frontman, in addition to a guitarist and primary lyricist, since 1990. Inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of Pearl Jam, Vedder’s trademark vocal style inspired a generation. His energetic and unvarnished stage presence coupled with his honest conversations with the audience led Pearl Jam as pioneers in live performances and social justice.
Vedder’s signature ethos carries into his solo work. His first project came out in 2007 with the soundtrack for the film Into the Wild and earned him a Golden Globe for Guaranteed. In 2012, Vedder’s sophomore solo album Ukulele Songs received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. Most recently, he collaborated with Glen Hansard for the Flag Day soundtrack.
Vedder was born in Evanston, Ill., on Dec. 23, 1964 and became a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan before moving with his family to San Diego County in the mid-1970s. It was in southern California that Vedder began to play guitar and learned to surf. In 1990, he received a tape of a band from Seattle that needed a singer. Vedder wrote lyrics for three of the songs, mailed it back to Seattle, and the songs ultimately became the Pearl Jam songs Alive, Footsteps and Once. Vedder moved north and was recruited by Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard and Mike McCready to join their new band, known then as Mookie Blaylock before becoming Pearl Jam.
Vedder’s lyrics address many of the key issues of our times including gun violence, racism, and climate change. In addition to the activism inherent to the music, Vedder is an outspoken advocate for several progressive, social, and political causes, most notably abortion access and the environment. A longtime supporter of Surfrider Foundation, Vedder has most recently been vocal in banning offshore drilling along the U.S. coast. “Though some may think there should be a separation between art, music and politics, it should be reinforced that art can be a form of nonviolent protest,” he says.”