Pearl Jam’s 10th offering proves that the innovators of Seattle’s grunge movement still know how to pack a punch. It took over four years for Eddie Vedder and the boys to release ‘Lightning Bolt’ and the wait was definitely worth it.
Since the 1991 release of ‘Ten’, Pearl Jam has defied all the odds that often plague rock bands; the lineup has stayed intact, save for their drummer, Mike Cameron who has only been with Pearl Jam for 15 years. This brotherhood lends to great cohesiveness that shows through on every track on ‘Lightning Bolt.’
At first listen, the album begins with full-on punk rock tracks with short, hard-hitting numbers ‘Getaway’ and ‘Mind Your Manners’. The band flexes also their creative muscles with Pink Floyd influenced tracks ‘Sirens’ and ‘Infallible’ which have a deep, almost psychedelic groove to them that still satisfy the rock quotient
Most surprising was the power-pop anthem ‘Let the Records Play’ which hearkened back to the days when AM radio ruled the airwaves. It’s catchy, sugary-sweet pop make you forget that the song is about how alcohol and music “take away the pain.” Vedder’s knack for haunting ballads also make the cut with ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Yellow Moon’ while the love song ‘Future Days’ completes the album.
This album, as a whole provides great variety for the epic Pearl Jam live shows that have become a must for any fan of rock music or music in general, for that matter. I have grown up with Pearl Jam over the past 22 years and still vividly remember the antics of a crazy front man that opened up for little-known Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in December, 1991. I fell in love with the band that played live on my 25th birthday in 1993 in support of the ‘Vs.’ album and hearing ‘Lightning Bolt’ is another gift that will delight music lovers of all ages.
On the Bowers’ scale of one to five, ‘Lightning Bolt’ receives:
- “Mind Your Manners”
- “My Father’s Son”
- “Lightning Bolt”
- “Swallowed Whole”
- “Let the Records Play”
- “Sleeping by Myself”
- “Yellow Moon”
- “Future Days”