Pearl Jam is, without a doubt, one the best alternative rock band to have emerged in the late 1980s. The group, led by vocalist Eddie Vedder and guitarist Stone Gossard, has been crafting searing songs for decades now. They’re not only full today, but these tuneful purveyors have maintained an unbroken relevance throughout. The band has been around for thirty-five years, releasing 11 studio records that span over four decades and contain powerful tunes and vibrant lyrics time after time. If you are someone who’s not sure where to start with this classic act, then we’ve got just what you’re looking for. The studio albums of Pearl Jam are ranked in order of greatness below:
11. Pearl Jam (2006)
The band’s new album marks a return to their roots, emphasizing up-tempo songs and aggressive sound. The lyrics are mostly told from characters dealing with socio-political issues in America like War On Terror (e). Pearl Jam’s self-titled album was a critically well-received commercial success, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The band eventually surpassed their previous release, Riot Act, by selling more copies of this record. “Worldwide Suicide,” “Life Wasted,” and Gone all had moderate success in singles while they supported themselves with tours worldwide in 2006.
For their ninth studio album, Pearl Jam knew precisely what they wanted. What started as an instrumental idea became Backspacer with producer Brendan O’Brien at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, for all 11 tracks that were cut. The band released their latest album, “Backspacer,” through its label Monkeywrench Records with worldwide distribution by Universal Music Group via a licensing agreement from Island Records. Physical copies of the record were sold at Target in North America, and promotion included deals such as one signed to Verizon for world tours. It resulted in moderate success on singles, including “Got Some/Just Breathe.” Reviews were positive, criticizing only the instrumentation while praising other aspects, like sound composition and vocals. This led to Pearl Jam’s first chart-topping position since 1996 when they topped both U.S. Billboard 200 charts simultaneously.
9. Riot Act (2002)
Pearl Jam went on hiatus in the early 2000s, and it was not until 2002 that they returned with Riot Act. This album has folk-rock influences that were both political and dealt with mortality themes such as death or suicide. Existentialism came into play when dealing with these topics too close for comfort. The band supported their last album with a politically charged concert tour in 2003. Riot Act was the last of all-new material for Epic, and it received mostly positive reviews from critics around the country when it came out in early 2004. This led to even higher sales than before, thanks mainly to increased awareness about what people want.
8. Binaural (2000)
Pearl Jam’s Binaural is the sixth studio album that was released through Epic Records. Despite various obstacles when creating the album, they made one of their most successful works ever (at least in America). The band experienced difficulties, such as guitarist Mike McCready entering rehab because of addiction towards prescription drugs. However, all setbacks seemed worthwhile when you hear how beautifully some songs like “Just Breathe” turn out because there isn’t any over-powering sound; instead, it feels more intimate than anything else.
7. Lightning Bolt (2013)
Lightning Bolt was produced by longtime collaborator Brendan O’Brien, released in America on October 15 through their record label, Monkeywrench Records. The band began composing new material in 2011 but didn’t get around to recording any songs until early 2012 when they took a break from all other projects. Work started again only in March 2013 after gathering up momentum once more due primarily because we could finally put an end to what ended up being such extensive sessions at Sound City studios back then. In contrast to their previous album, Lightning Bolt features a complex rock sound with longer songs. The lyrics convey singer Eddie Vedder’s feelings about aging and mortality. The new release from the band was well received by critics who considered it an effective return of old times for Pearl Jam fans alike.
6. Gigaton (2020)
Gigaton is Pearl Jam’s eleventh studio album, which was released on March 27, 2020. The album is the band’s first studio release in seven years, and photographer Paul Nicklen created the album’s beautiful cover artwork. Its publication was timed to coincide with a North American tour. However, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, the North American leg was postponed to reschedule later.
5. No Code (1996)
Pearl Jam’s third consecutive number one album, No Code, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. The accomplishment would have been impossible without the band’s unique work ethic. It disappointed a sizable portion of their fan base and quickly plummeted down the charts. The critical reception was likewise divided, with praise for the musical variety but criticism for inconsistencies in the overall effort and errors in production. This is the first time since Vs. that an act has failed to attain multi-platinum status, with only a single platinum certification from the RIAA.
4. Yield (1998)
Despite being met with mixed reviews, Yield debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. The album eventually dropped and outsold its predecessor, No Code, by 1 million copies to become certified platinum in RIAA countries like America. They are still active today with no quitting or quitting ambitions for success under their belt yet again. They did more promotion, including appearances from 2008 through 2013, then singer Eddie Vedder learned he had vocal cancer, which left his spot open, which is why we saw Chris Cornell coming into Soundgarden as well.
3. Vs. (1993)
Vs. was the band’s first collaboration with producer Brendan O’Brien and Dave Abbruzzese on drums after having parted ways from Matt Chamberlain earlier in 1993. When Pearl Jam scaled back its promotional efforts for Vs., including declining music videos, they set out on a new campaign with no precedent. They knew that this would be an opportunity with excellent risk acceptance and payoff. If it succeeded, then perhaps other artists could follow suit? When the album’s release came around in 1993, no one was more surprised than themselves when they sold over 7 million copies worldwide within five weeks (a record) and occupied the #1 spot on Billboards 200 chart, where it stayed for five whole weeks.
2. Vitalogy (1994)
The group recorded this while touring behind its previous release Vs. (1993). With more diverse styles than ever before and ballads as well for those who needed them – Vitalogy would become one of their most experimental albums until that point too. Vitalogy is one of Pearl Jam’s most popular albums, with its 1994 release inching the band towards global success. The album was first released on vinyl and cassette two weeks later, on December 6, 1994, before being made available via compact disc three days later at retail locations nationwide. Vitalogy went multi-platinum quickly, and its success was attributed to strong sales during a period when other artists were not at their peak.
Ten was not an instant hit. However, it reached number two on the Billboard 200 by late 1992. “Alive,” “Even Flow,” and “Jeremy” were three of the album’s hit singles. But come on, EVERY song is fantastic on this album. These songs have memorable hooks that make them stick in your brain without even trying. But one thing about Pearl Jam is that they never get old. You can always expect great stuff from this incredible band, and Ten was not an exception, nor will it ever be. Fans will always count this as their number one, and rightfully so.