Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pearl Jam: "Lightning Bolt" (album review)

After 22 years and 10 studio albums together, I'm not exactly sure what Pearl Jam has left to prove, or what compels them to continue to make new music.  This week they came back with their first studio album in four years, Lightning Bolt.

Let's face it.  Pearl Jam's slower numbers have become dishwater dull wastes of time.  Tracks like "Sirens", "Yellow Moon", and "Pendulum" are almost enough to make you want to turn the album off right then and there.  An exception to that rule is "Infallible".  It's methodical and sullen, with an engaging slow-burn.

For the most part though, Lightning Bolt is a collection of middling-to-decent rock numbers.  That's the best way to describe tracks like "Swallowed Whole", "Getaway", and "My Father's Son".  "Let the Records Play" has a riff that sets it apart, but for the most part isn't memorable (in either a good or a bad way).

The record's standout it "Sleeping By Myself".  It's a stripped-down number with a hint of jangle and twang, that frames a strong set of lyrics.  The title track adds some interest as a gathering storm of a classic rock jam.  "Mind Your Manners" swirls with a punk urgency.

That's not enough to justify the existence of this record.  I'm sure that diehard fans will throw verbal stones at me, but Pearl Jam just haven't done anything interesting in a decade and a half.

Best tracks: "Sleeping By Myself", "Mind Your Manners"

Track listing for Lightning Bolt:
  • Getaway
  • Mind Your Manners
  • My Father's Son
  • Sirens
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Infallible
  • Pendulum
  • Swallowed Whole
  • Let the Records Play
  • Sleeping By Myself
  • Yellow Moon
  • Future Days

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