Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt

By Dane Anderson

Released October 11th, 2013 - EMI

For a band whose members are all around or near to the 50 year old age mark, Pearl Jam have been making music for a while now and with their tenth studio release, Lightning Bolt represent a somewhat youthful exuberance whilst still maintaining the maturity that has seen Pearl Jam grow into the band they are known today.

The album starts off hard and fast with 'Getaway', a groovy bass driven song similar to 'The Fixer'. Its very catchy, featuring two solos from Mike McCready and it's hard to go past Eddie Vedder's vocals, making it a perfect start to the record.

First single 'Mind Your Manners' follows and sounds similar to 'Spin the Black Circle' from 1994's Vitalogyalbum. Of particular note is Matt Cameron's drumming which packs a heavy punch.

'My Father's Son' continues the momentum set up from the previous two tracks and sees the band once again exploring a somewhat 'new wave' sound.

On first listen you may not be impressed with second single 'Sirens' as it doesn't have that instant catchy rhythm or chorus that repeats throughout, but let it sink in and mellow about and it'll soon become your favourite song from Lightning Bolt. It has a certain ballad feel to it and is like nothing Pearl Jam has written before. Vedder's lyrics are very emotional and are equally matched by McCready's music, combining to make a beautiful song.

Title track 'Lightning Bolt' starts off slowly building to crescendo and has a celebration feel of sorts, especially after 'Sirens'. Its not anything out of this world but is fairly solid.

'Infallible' is an instant classic, complete with catchy rhythm and harmonies throughout the chorus that will stick in your head. It's a bass heavy track that doesn't sound like a typical Pearl Jam track but will be instantly loveable. Music is by Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard.

Next up is 'Pendulum', which is a weird sounding song and could've been the spawn of many songs on No Code. The music playing is tight and features what sounds like many instruments. 

'Swallowed Whole' is poppy is nature and acoustically sounding. While 'Let The Records Play' sees the band explore the bluesy-rock sound complete with handclaps. It sounds like the band is having fun with this one.

'Sleeping By Myself' is a song that appeared on Vedder's Ukulele album though it has extra arrangements and band contributions on Lightning Bolt. 
It feels nice, and is short and sweet.

The slower darker 'Yellow Moon' broods along and isn't much of a highlight. It sees the album tapering away from its hard-hitting start.

'Future Days' is another slower almost acoustic song, which if played live will have you pulling out your lighters or phones. It doesn't feature drums but it does feature more piano, acoustic guitar and violin. 

Lightning Bolt is a solid return for Pearl Jam. It's certainly not an album in the calibre of their earlier records but features more than a few memorable songs that will keep you happy. It certainly shows that Pearl Jam are happy making music.

3.5 / 5