6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It's a Grower!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lightning Bolt (Audio CD)
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.