Pearl Jam: Lightning Bolt

If you’re watching the World Series tonight, you’ll hear plenty of Pearl Jam (their songs are providing the soundtrack), so a quick review of Lightning Bolt is in order.

Pearl Jam peaked musically with 1998’s Yield. When you make a rock song as perfect as Do The Evolution, the genie has granted you your last wish. The cult of Pearl Jam is now centred on their epic live shows, so as a fan, you immediately imagine how new songs will sound in concert.

Stone Gossard hinted at this in a recent interview: “We just rehearsed and we played every song on this record live for the first time really over the past couple of days and everything sounded good right away. And that’s a good sign.”

On that level, Lightning Bolt is a triumph. We have a new anthem (“Sirens”), a new mosher (“Mind Your Manners”), a plenty of excellent mid-tempo tracks (“Getaway”, “Lightning Bolt”), and some nice moody numbers, my favourite being “Pendulum” (click to listen).

Vedder’s new obsession with mortality is evident in lyrics such as “To and fro the pendulum throws / We are here and then we go / My shadow left me long ago.” But this is no dour record, just melancholy at times, and there is only one dud (“Swallowed Whole” I’m looking at you).

B+

Looking forward to a European tour next year . . . ?

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