on 17 October 2013
If I had reviewed this album last week when it was streaming on i-tunes I would have given it 2 stars. A few days later 3. A day later 4. And today 5. And in a year or 5 or 10 or more, I know this album will be one I revisit. Its Pearl Jam. I should have known not to trust my first listens. For me, the best Pearl Jam albums have been the ones I have grown into, No Code, Binaural and now Lighting Bolt. This is a band of unrivaled musicians. They are capable of crafting deep, multi faceted rock songs that don't just invade your head they invade your very soul, the very essence of who you are. Vedders vocal melodies are at times so odd you don't know how in the world it could ever be a singalong song, but there you are, belting it out at the top of your lungs. Pendulum is a stunning masterpiece, a new career high, it parts the album like Moses and the red sea. The first half is biting, fierce and infectious. The second half, deeper, more introspective, a little more soulful, and equally as brilliant as the first half. What an album. What a band. Listen and learn.
on 4 November 2013
As others have said, this album deserves a few listens and a little time to sink in before you make up your mind - if you're a Pearl Jam fan already, that probably isn't a surprise (No Code, Binaural, Riot Act - I'm looking at you). My opinion has changed dramatically since I first heard it. On first listen, I wasn't sure I liked it at all, beyond the singles Mind Your Manners and Sirens. Now, I'm sold and I finally get that this is meant to be an album of two halves. I just needed to go with the change in mood and tempo - you can't 'make' the second half keep up its momentum of punchy, punky, attitude, you just have to give in to the introspective, haunting, melancholic and atmospheric as soon as Pendulum hits. Interestingly, we seem to have two distinct moments in the two halves where a track stands out for being a little different. During the first half, it's Sirens, with its song of uncertainty and the fragility of life and love sandwiched between the biting, satirical notes of My Father's Son and the indomitable force at the heart of Lightning Bolt (whoever the female subject is, she kicks quite some arse). Despite the deep, dark theme, Sirens soars, lifts and ultimately gives us the possibility of hope and holding on to love, if only for the present. After Pendulum hits, we don't really get back up to the hard-hitting heights of Getaway and Mind Your Manners, we have to give in to introspection, a crepuscular atmosphere and the kinds of things that prey on our minds in the dark. Yet, among these songs of fear, longing and reminiscence, Let the Records Play bounces in with the feel of a 'last hurrah' (or 'Dad dancing at the disco', if we're going to be mean - tee hee), in all its glam-rocky pants-swinging glory. The second half of Lightning Bolt seems complicated, slightly hard work and initially less satisfying than the first but if you give it a chance to creep in, there is beauty and delicate, dark poetry to be had here - Yellow Moon is a sultry, Mark Lanegan-worthy example. The only part that jars with me is the version of Sleeping By Myself, which seems a facile, jaunty revamp compared to Eddie Vedder's sublime offering on Ukelele Songs. On that album, the simplicity of one tremulous voice and a ukelele deftly and subtly reveals the raw vulnerability which I feel is totally missing here - I feel incredulous and that's not something I thought I'd ever write about a song by a man who pretty much bleeds emotions into his music. Oh well, one dud on an otherwise sterling job of an album. I think, in time, I will grow to love Lightning Bolt even more.
on 18 October 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.
on 15 October 2013
This is easily there best album in years. Most songs if not all are all worth listening to more than once, where as in the last four to five albums there as been more than one song on an album you will skip!
Such a good mix of tracks and Eddie is on superb form with his wonderful voice and lyrics.
This is up there with TEN, Vs. & VITALOGY and enjoying listening to whole album!
on 24 December 2013
Pearl jam never disappoint - another great albumn by the lads loved every track. Just love the lyrics and eddie vedder's vocals
on 7 November 2013
Always a major event waiting for the next PJ release and their tenth contains seven classic pj songs with the remaining five still excellent listening. This band are never disappointing. They are THE best rock band on the planet and their back catalogue is a collection of variety and sheer quality. The comparison to Ten and Vs is unfair as that two recordings are unmatched but Lightning Bolt falls into the batch of 'I cannot separate these': No Code, Yield, Avocado, Backspacer possibly Vitalogy, but behind Riot Act and Binaural.
Just back from seeing them twice in Brooklyn and twice in Phildelphia, and the new songs sounded great, not having heard any of them to maintain the freshness. and cannot wait to see them live again. Pendulum, Sirens, Infallible, Swallowed Whole, Yellow Moon, Lightning Bolt and Getaway are great songs and easily join their setlist of classics. Eddie Vedders voice is still great and the guitars of MM and SG are still inventive and crunching. Always had a soft spot for Jeff Ament who is such a great bass player and Matt Cameron on drums is as rock solid as ever.
Its been a shallow stream of great rock bands for the last decade or so, not counting ones who are still performing from thirty plus years ago and Pearl Jam are a class act, live there are few who have ever matched them.
Lightning Bolt contains enough greatness with Sirens and Infallible my personal favourites and keeps on growing the more I listen to it.
Now look forward to number eleven
23 years and counting
on 30 October 2013
Absolute belter of a Pearl Jam album and well up there with their best work. If you thought the band were taking a step towards retirement with their last album 'Backspacer' then think again! This is probably the most energetic they have sounded since the 90s - you could be forgiven for thinking some of the tracks on this album were recorded back in their hey day. The emotion and angst of their earlier work has come back on this record, yet it also manages to pick up the best of all the previous albums. Vedder's vocals on this album are perfect and, as full of emotion, as they were on 'Ten'.
This album has been on repeat ever since I first listened to it and gets better each time! 'Getaway' and 'Mind your Manners', 'My Father's Son' and 'Lightning Bolt' will please every Pearl Jam fan who enjoyed their heavier stuff and they are brilliant openers to a broad and varied album with multiple layers. 'Infallible' and 'Pendulum' are newer territory for the band and also brilliant, particularly 'Pendulum', with its sombre keyboard sound and beautiful harmonies. 'Yellow Moon' is also a gorgeous song that you will find yourself humming along to. What makes this album so special is that there isn't a single filler and the quality continues throughout. Even some of my favourite PJ albums contained the odd track that would require the skip button - thats not the case here.
Pearl Jam, like every other band in history, have had their odd dip in form over the past 20 years but even when not at their best - would always still produce something that would kick the arse off most other bands. To produce this album after going so long is incredible and firmly cements them up amongst the best bands ever.
Play it loud!
on 15 October 2013
....studio albums. And prior to the release of each one since 'Ten' I've asked myself "Will it be better than". It's a big ask, since 'Ten' is the best album I've ever heard.'Ten' has angst, mystique and a brooding, menacing sinister feel to it that has not been replicated by PJ over the last 22 years imo. The band is no longer a collective of angry young men, if indeed they ever were but they are older and wiser now and 'Lightning Bolt' is a reflection of that confident maturity. I'm usually not a big fan of Brendan O'Brien's production. I think he sometimes applies so much polish to the music that he renders it sterile however he always comes up trumps with PJ, they work well together. 'Lightning Bolt' feels like an extension to 'Backspacer'. A no frills example of perfectly executed rock music performed by musicians who proved, beyond doubt, many years ago that they could play. I've never been disappointed with any of their albums, they continue to never put a foot wrong imo which may render this review unhelpful however if you like just one of PJ's other albums you owe it to yourself to give 'Lightning Bolt' a try. You might not be disappointed.
on 27 July 2015
When you think of Pearl Jam, you immediately think of grunge and probably their most famous song, "Alive."
Well grunge has been dead for a while now but the musical juggernaut that is Pearl Jam most definitely is not.
"Lightning Bolt" is their tenth studio album, a straight up no frills alternative rock record, heavier than predecessor "Backspacer" but not hard rock as the "avocado" album from 2006.
Lead single "Mind Your Manners" is a throwback to old style Pearl Jam, quirky in delivery but not single potential in my view.
Second single "Sirens" though is a sublime song however, quite simply one of the best they've ever recorded.
Such a poignant melody with meaningful lyrics.
Other album highlights include the haunting "Pendulum" and "Swallowed Whole" as well as the calm ballad "Yellow Moon."
Fans of Pearl Jam's back catalogue will be familiar with the sound here, it's a song done many times before.
22 years is a long time for any band to be on top of their game, but Pearl Jam prove there's live in an old dog yet.
They are still as relevant and fresh as they ever were back in 1991.
"Lightning Bolt" is a superb alternative rock record and comes highly recommended.
on 17 October 2013
I noted one review didn't rate the last 5 tracks as much as the first 7 and so I did listen thinking it would tail off. Far from it, the last 5 tracks are superb, they are accomplished and less rocking but more thoughtful and delightfully put together. Track 11 'Yellow Moon' is perhaps my favourite on the album, and I love them slipping into an almost country fused track in 'Sleeping By Myself'. 'Sirens' is another soaring stand out effort in which Vedder's voice conveys all his emotion.
If you've ever liked Pearl Jam at any part of their career, you'll love this I think. It is a superb listen.
It is also a great place to start if you've never bought one of their records before.