6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Settled Into A New Groove, 18 Oct 2013
There's something very different about Pearl Jam on Lightning Bolt. Even though the opening three songs remind the listener of their hard rock roots, they retain much of the power we associate with them but there are a few unusual diversions along the way. Some of these work after repeated listening but others do not.
The opening track "Getaway" starts with an unusual groove before launching into a familiar emotive chorus. "Mind Your Manners" marries a punk ethos with Vedder's diatribe. The first of four songs that Jeff Ament is involved in writing, "My Father's Son", features some quirky but powerful lyrics. "Sirens" and the title track ease off the tempo. The former is unusual at first but it is a beautiful ballad that eases itself into your mind with each listen. The title track builds strongly but is let down by a slightly formulaic chorus.
With the strongest lyrics and melodies on Lightning Bolt, "Infallible" is one of the best things Jeff Ament has written. Another of his songs, "Pendulum", follows. It's dark and intense, with shades of "Nothing Is As It Seems'. With it's eerie sound effects, along with the other instruments that introduce themselves to accompany Vedder's quivering vocals, it is another highlight. Vedder's "Swallowed Whole" completes this middle section with another quality tune.
After a strong start Lightning Bolt gets bogged down with a few ballads. The best of those, "Sleeping By Myself", gets a different treatment compared to the version on Eddie Vedder's Ukelele Songs. Here it is upbeat and comes with a catchy, toe-tapping groove. "Yellow Moon's" refrain and lyric brings to mind CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" but sounds weak by comparison to his earlier contributions. "Future Days" starts like a pop ballad before a fiddle turns it into a dreamy ballad but it sounds unsure of itself.
While their self-titled album and Backspacer, they sounded reinvigorated as a band. With Lightning Bolter they sound settled into a groove and comfortable in their own skins whether they are playing hard rock, rockin' out or playing ballads.