Pearl Jam: Lightning Bolt

pearl jamPearl Jam
Lightning Bolt
(Monkeywrench Records)

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“Everyone’s a critic looking back up the river.” With those words, Eddie Vedder kicks off Pearl Jam’s 10th studio album. In a way, “Getaway” sounds like an articulation of Pearl Jam’s career path, shunning the music industry’s standard practices in favor of their own path. For the most part, this makes Lightning Bolt an album that works well and shows the Seattle rockers aren’t about to get boring any time soon.

After the solid rock opener, “Mind Your Manners” goes in a completely punk direction fit for moshing. “My Father’s Son” keeps up that aggression and energy. Where Lightning Bolt staggers is its inclusion of “Sirens,” a five-and-a-half minute feat of overindulgence. Taken out of context, it’s a delicate, uplifting song, but it’s far too slow and too Vedder-focused to feel at home on a Pearl Jam album.

Fortunately, things go back to form on the album’s title track, which is a perfect metaphor for an untamable girl. This is one of the few tracks where his delivery comes second to the lyrics. “Infallible” could have been just another radio-ready rock tune, but the musical flourishes take it into slightly darker, curious territory.

Lightning Bolt slips out of its groove again with “Pendulum,” which sounds more suited to Phil Collins than Pearl Jam. Like with “Sirens,” it’s not a bad song by any means, but it doesn’t fit with the record as a whole and bogs down the second half. But hey, it’s Pearl Jam. I’ll forgive them the indulgences and skip around as I please, because Lightning Bolt as a whole can afford a few minutes of missteps.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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