Pearl Jam

Lightning Bolt

Written by: BW on 08/01/2014 18:12:38

All fans of Pearl Jam, including myself, usually rate the first album, "Ten", as their best one and that none have really came close to emulating that. Indeed their last one, "Backspacer", was more a light hearted change of direction for them, filled with a lot of major chords and upbeat melodies, which whilst still being good and solid, took everyone by surprise.

"Lightning Bolt" is, in that respect, like a step back towards the career defining record from the band’s origins, but the beauty of "Lightning Bolt" is that is also encapsulates a lot of the things learnt from the records since.

Listening to the album helps to prove this by making you kick your head back thinking about songs from other albums that little elements from these tracks have stolen from. “Getaway” is a nice little easy settler allowing a steady rhythm and some characteristic licks that we’re used to from Vedder and company and once you’re nicely strapped in “Mind Your Manners” takes you back to the days of old that you can’t help but love. It has a feel of “Spin the Black Circle” off of "Vitology" in terms of its ferociousness of tempo and vocal intensity.

I think the song that lends itself to that Pearl Jam “sound” more than any other on the album has to be “My Father’s Son” mainly because of those classic minor to major chord changes and the fast pace. The best bit is that it shows that the intensity of the band hasn’t diminished over the years, producing a shining light highlight that burns brightly on its own.

As for the title track, "Lightning Bolt" is proof of taking what works from the recent stuff and honing it into something nice. It’s a good wholesome song that has a nice beat woven into it that will make even the hardest person’s foot tap, no matter how much they try to resist.

Other major standouts for me have to be the beautifully crafted “Pendulum” and the almost Pink Floyd-esque “Yellow Moon” as they show the other side of Pearl Jam, that of the slow melodies that not so much delight your ears, but touch your soul and strike a chord with you, which to me is why I fell in love with Grunge music in the first place.

To be honest, the rest of the album is the same. Each song keeps an identity of its own whilst borrowing little elements from songs that laid the tracks down before it, which is how it should be. The main difference this time is that the majority of songs are enjoyable, resulting in a full record listen being an enjoyment rather than the usual case of finding that one song you love, the two you like and trying to blank out the rest. There are some instances where you can hear some of Eddie’s solo work creeping through ("Sleeping By Myself" being a particular example) but that’s not really a criticism.

I can’t really say that this album is a rediscovering of past form, as it was never really lost. It seems to be a record that is reaffirming the tools they’ve always had, whilst also embracing everything learnt, culminating in one of their best albums. The fact that this can sit up there with the iconic “Ten” should be testament enough and as far as I’m concerned, anyone who follows the band should get this and have their love for Pearl Jam rekindled again.


Download: Yellow Moon, Pendulum, Mind Your Manners, Lightning Bolt
For The Fans Of: Temple Of The Dog, Brad, Stone Temple Pilots, Audioslave

Release Date 11.10.2013
Monkeywrench / Republic

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