Review Summary: Control Myself, CHAPTER 10: "Everyone's a Critic Lookin' Back Up the River..."
Pearl Jam have long since established a sense of formula with their music; underneath the bevy of tender radio ballads and songs raised on razor-sharp riffing, Pearl Jam are no longer the experimental band they had once claimed to be in hopes of relevance. Instead- at least since Backspacer
- the band have become clever enough to accept their spot on FM radio. It's fitting then that instead of further identity crisis, they released the consistent yet unsurprising Lightning Bolt
'Unsurprising' remains a difficult adjective to apply to Lightning Bolt
, however it seems the most fitting. Chaotic, guitar-centric opener that feeds off an infectious vocal hook ("Getaway")? Check. Throwbacks to former glories in terms of both folk and punk music ("Future Days" and "Mind Your Manners" respectively)? Check. Without a facet of experimentation, the likes of "Let the Records Play", "My Father's Son" and the sorrowful power ballad "Sirens" remain exciting but all-together tepid outings; if this is what we get instead of bad experiments in the vein of "Bugs", then I'm happy. The matter of the fact is that Pearl Jam have learnt to grow with their audience, even if it comes at questioning relevance from their critics.
And in the end, that's what Pearl Jam's career has more or less been. While proving their power early on only to face dissent from 'trendy' artists such as PJ Harvey and Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder's wild crew of Seattle survivors have done themselves a favour by settling into their groove of a formula. They may no longer be the word that's on the tip of everyone's tongue and they may pale in comparison commercially to many others, the utterly resilient 5-piece can never be faulted. As the only true survivors of the Seattle scene, they deserve every piece of hyperbole written about them and are more than deserving of their current status as rock legends.
...to be continued...