Pearl Jam: Lightning Bolt (Monkeywrench/Republic) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIMPearl Jam

Lightning Bolt


Dec 04, 2013 Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIM Bookmark and Share

Pearl Jam is the new classic rock. With Lightning Bolt, the second album into what seems like a new return-to-classic-Pearl Jam era, the band has even further shunted any self-imposed notions of what it “should” be and seemingly morphed into what it is, or at least what it will be moving forward. The album’s first single, “Mind Your Manners,” reeled in the faithful with a hard-driving track that takes its cues from 1996’s “Lukin,” and the band followed it up with “Sirens,” a huge and somewhat uncharacteristic ballad. But between these extremes, Lightning Bolt finds Pearl Jam sounding more comfortable in its collective skin and with its collective influences than perhaps ever before.

It would be perhaps insulting to alt-rock purists (are there any of those left anyway?) but not altogether untrue to say that Lightning Bolt is the Pearl Jam album most unafraid to embrace its stadium grandiosity. “Swallowed Whole” sounds like it should be on Quadrophenia, with acoustic guitar drive, mystical lyrics, and big guitar solo. “Let the Records Play” sounds like some unidentified ‘70s anthem, with a bluesy riff, big chorus, a marching beat, and even handclaps. One can almost hear “Sleeping By Myself” performed wonderfully on solo ukulele among the classics at some Midwestern arena. And perhaps most strangely, although not at all off-putting, “Infallible” sounds very much like Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Songs such as “The Pendulum” and “Yellow Moon” provide some nuance and subtlety, reminiscent of mid-period albums like Binaural and Riot Act, but they are the exceptions rather than the rule. Sonically, the album is a perfect complement and step forward from 2009’s Backspacer. Lyrically, Lightning Bolt traces an arc, from questioning, self-examination, and pain and hurt (at times self-caused), to self-realization and renewed resolve, exemplified most starkly in the piano-driven concluding track, “Future Days.” In the song, which also features solemn violin, Eddie Vedder sings: “I believe, and I believe ‘cause I can see our future days.” They look bright. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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December 4th 2013

This is a great review.  After reading many others on Lightning Bolt, you finally hit the nail on the head.  While other reviewers were doing their best to act cynical just because it wasnt the second coming of TEN.  Nearing 50 years old - TEN is not coming back, nor should it.  I do not want to hear a 50 year old man screaming about teenage problems, daddy issues, momma didnt hold me enough, etc.  This album I feel is right up there with Yield, their 4th Studio Album.  Mind your Manners is the best true rock song to come out in 2013. The title track Lightning Bolt is an underrated midtempo rock and roll song, spectacular.  Yellow Moon is just a perfectly crafted hidden gem that hits you right in the heart as Eddie delivers once again on perfectly brooding lyrical masterpiece with McCready and Stone delivering fantastic guitar rifts.  This album is pure genius by a band that has gotten the short end of the stick once Binaural came out.  Pearl Jam is rock and roll right now, which we all know is a dying breed.  Hip Hop, Pop, house music, and country has completely taken over as the primary teenage favorite genre of music.  Whereas as far up to the late 90’s rock and roll was still by far the general leader.  Rock is dead, and Pearl Jam is doing their best to keep it around for a few years (and the Foo)