One of the few survivors of the grunge era proves with its newest album that it’s more than still alive. It’s quite appropriate that Pearl Jam’s first studio release in four years is self-titled, as it encapsulates all that the band is—at its very best. Many of the songs are guitar-driven and politically motivated, including “Army Reserve” and the first single, “World Wide Suicide”—a blatant stab at the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Other songs, like “Comatose,” return to the garage-rock sound the band is known for. Mike McCready, looking and sounding better than ever, and Stone Gossard really step up the guitar work, and it’s apparent that drummer Matt Cameron has found a permanent home with the band. You can really tell they’re having fun here—I can see in my mind Eddie Vedder dancing while singing “Big Wave.” And his gut-wrenching vocals on the lost-love ballad “Come Back” reminds us that, although it’s been years since the band has released any new material, Pearl Jam never really left.