Riot Act - Pearl Jam

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. In some ways, Riot Act is the album that Pearl Jam has been wanting to make since Vitalogy -- a muscular art rock record, one that still hits hard but that is filled with ragged edges and odd detours.
  2. Pearl Jam has made some of the most vital music of its career.
  3. Riot Act meanders from one song to the next with an overwhelming insipidness.
  4. 60
    A couple of songs could do with more melody and less of Mike McCready's spidery guitar breaks. [Dec 2002, p.132]
  5. An adult rock record in which nuance succeeds over bombast. [Dec 2002, p.108]
  6. 70
    This album has plenty of ideas and plenty of 'moments.' [Jan 2003, p.92]
  7. The familiarity of this straightforward tumble sounds tired -- the musicians struggle to put their backs and hearts into the Mudhoney-ish rocker "Save You." But like Neil Young at his most deliberately despondent, Pearl Jam sound purposefully tired.
  8. The most quietly adventurous, intriguing document the group has assembled in ages.
  9. Those waiting for another record as challenging as 'Vitalogy' will be left disappointed. But 'Riot Act' is the sound of a band entering a powerful middle-age. They still deserve your attention.
  10. 70
    Like their last three records... [Riot Act] balances emotive bombast with a taut, sweaty hard-rock attack. [Dec 2002, p.137]
  11. Eddie's heartfelt lyrics rarely cohere... [but their] grooves still sound taut, emotive, and world-class.
  12. In mood, style and tone, Riot Act sounds like every other Pearl Jam record, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. [Dec 2002, p.89]
  13. 60
    The production seems to capture a band that's playing live, with the guitarists constantly pushing each other and tunes evolving on the spot. [#11, p.122]
  14. With its restless spirituality and dense, decidedly un-pop arrangements, Riot Act perhaps most closely resembles that first album (No Code) of the post-Vitalogy years.
  15. 'Riot Act' may be neither 'the-best-album-since' nor 'a-brilliant-return-to-form', but neither is it more-of-the-same-but-less-so.
  16. This is a definite upswing from the steaming pile of crap that was Binaural, but not the return to form that older fans of the band may have been hoping for.
  17. From its downbeat organ opening to its exhilarating climax, it's almost the sound of a garage band taking on 70s prog-rock excess - all the ambition and none of the flabby indulgence.
  18. The frequently acoustic guitars and the frontman's mumbled ramblings on death, politics and love make this a fairly quiet, and deep, Riot.
  19. Sticking to a formula -- a formula that works for them -- the band sounds fiercer than ever on Riot Act.
  20. 60
    Hints at greatness, but never quite sustains it.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 94 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 63
  2. Negative: 5 out of 63
  1. Apr 7, 2014
    As a new Pearl Jam fan, I love this album. If you're new to Pearl Jam, I recommend this album, because it's one of my favorite Pearl Jam albums as of now, and I feel like it's high quality. Plus, 'I Am Mine' is a fantastic song :) Full Review »
  2. Mar 26, 2013
    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! every album is a new pearl jam DEFINITELY great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Full Review »
  3. Jun 30, 2012
    The band clearly showing a mid-age slump with a very normal album. Nothing to get too excited about but a decent album. Love Boat Captain and Thumbing My Way showing good melodically structured songs Full Review »