Pearl Jam
Lightning Bolt


3.0
good

Review

by BrianE USER (29 Reviews)
October 15th, 2013 | 73 replies


Release Date: 10/14/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pearl Jam ponders their own mortality on studio album No. 10

Even when Pearl Jam is down, they're never out. The former grunge ragers saw their star dimming after a string of middling releases culminating in the early 2000s, but have been the beneficiaries of a full blown renaissance following the release of their 2006 self-titled album. In an age where many bands today rely on heavy helpings of studio trickery, Pearl Jam presents one of the most convincing arguments for pure guitar rock. For the most part, Lightning Bolt sticks to the blueprint established on 2009's Backspacer and the self-titled, but throws minor curveballs here and there.

The lyrical topics sees Vedder keying in on questions of religion vs. science, God, nature, and his own mortality. Ravishing opener "Getaway" tackles these issues head on, with Vedder seemingly turning his back on religion as he declares that you sometimes must put faith in no faith. Jeff Ament's bass often finds itself buried under layers of guitars, but here it gets plenty of breathing room and provides the backbone for one of the album's crunchiest and most melodic rockers. "Mind Your Manners," meanwhile, is a callback to the band's early grunge days with its blistering, grimy guitar and punk rock influence. With speed an intensity rivaling that of "Spin the Black Circle" from 1994's Vitalogy, it's sure to be a favorite with the headbangers.

The concept of self-examination is another of Lightning Bolt's defining themes, and nowhere does this come across greater than on the striking ballad "Sirens." This piece is custom designed to tug on your heartstrings, as Vedder reflects on his own mortality while hearing police sirens blare through the street late at night and ponders the ramifications of leaving his family behind. At times he raises into near falsetto, and sounds as though he's about to get teary eyed himself as he sings of dancing with laughter with the ever after. The theme of death and tombstones crop up more than once on Lightning Bolt, but never is the concept painted in more dynamic brushstrokes than what we see here.

Yet with all this discussion of Vedder, it's easy to get away from the varied instrumentation that makes up Lightning Bolt's colorful patchwork. Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard are once again in fine form. The title track features some of the band's tightest and most focused playing to date, presenting a passionate, stripped down, and immediate approach as waves of churning riffs and solos cascade out of your earbuds. "Mind Your Manners," meanwhile, features a bridge that cuts through the muck and grime to deliver a sky high stanza, before giving way into a methodical and highly calculated solo.

There are also some great moments of experimentation to be found dotting the album's second half. There is an ever so minor southwestern vibe that creeps up here and there, but is most pronounced on "Let the Records Play," a grooving tune packed with smoky blues solos and a beat that could have been ripped directly from a ZZ Top song. It's not tough to imagine this playing at some backwater blues club frequented by the likes of Quentin Tarantino. Elsewhere, "Pendulum" develops at a slow, mellow pace and transfixes the listener's attention with a stunning sense of hypnotism. But it dissipates as quickly as it appeared, leaving you with a feeling of coldness and desolation.

For all intents and purposes, Pearl Jam's 10th studio album is a fine achievement. The biggest drawback is that it often finds the band retreading similar musical territory they've been over numerous times. Once again, the band opens with a high intensity, raging rocker, closes with an acoustic ballad and packs a bevy of mostly familiar tunes and tempos in between. "Sleeping By Myself" and "Future Days," aren't necessarily complaint worthy, but it sounds like the same type of low energy terrain we've covered before. It's good question as to where the band will go from here, but it's a question they can afford to put off for an album or two. Pearl Jam is still continuing to put out more than a handful of thought provoking hits, and that should be more than enough for fans at the moment.



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user ratings (303)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
LittleStranger
October 16th 2013


481 Comments


this keeps getting some dank reviews

battleinthenorth
October 16th 2013


19 Comments


This is a pretty solid enough album to be honest

BrianE
October 16th 2013


43 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's not a bad album by any means. Just sort of feels like they've been going through the motions on a lot of stuff over the past few years.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
October 18th 2013


13381 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ive only listened 2wice but im diggin hard

Digging: The Smith Street Band - Throw Me In The River

greg84
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2013


7423 Comments


Ace review! I'm terribly out-of-date when it comes to these guys.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

trainofconsequence
October 18th 2013


1442 Comments


Good review

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2013


1671 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, never really was a big pearl jam fan.

EverythingEvil2113
October 19th 2013


1279 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their best since Yield in my opinion. Great album. Very nice review as well.

Cipieron
October 19th 2013


3508 Comments


Mind Your Manners is one of the worst songs I've heard this year, hope the rest of the album isn't like that song

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2013


6182 Comments


is this album art a joke

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2013


3459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, pos. As much as I like their previous two records, I haven't listened to Lightning Bolt more than twice. It doesn't attract me, I don't know why. Still, there are some great songs like Getaway, Sleeping By Myself or Sirens.

Digging: The Ting Tings - Super Critical

MAGNIFICENT
October 19th 2013


191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Well that review doesn't sound like a 3. But nonetheless a great review. Digging this hard.

joesmoe4000
October 19th 2013


371 Comments


Infallible is tits

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

Vicho
October 19th 2013


137 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not excellent, or one of the best Pearl Jam albums, or even one of the best 2013 albums.
But still their best in a long time.

Green Baron
October 19th 2013


20068 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

better than backspacer. lags in the middle and end though. opener kicks ass

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

kitsch
October 19th 2013


5107 Comments


it should be illegal for these twats to make any more music

porch
October 19th 2013


8459 Comments


co-signed

RadicalEd
October 20th 2013


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Your both idiots.

Digging: Jakob - Sines

demigod!
October 20th 2013


44793 Comments


dat irony


also, i thought this thread was for the band Lightning bolt so this thread was pretty confusing

Digging: Iced Earth - Night of the Stormrider

Spag
October 20th 2013


1823 Comments


it should be illegal for these twats to make any more music

Fag.

co-signed

Fag 2.0

Your both idiots.

You're*

dat irony

lol

Digging: Manes - Be All End All



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