Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
Pearl Jam is back!! And how!
I picked up this latest offering, their first since Backspacer in 2009, as quickly as I could. I somehow missed being a first day buyer, which is inexcusable with the mall two blocks from my house. And then the very next day I tore up my foot playing basketball, so there went a few more days. But get the record I did, and it is so very, very good. Not that we ever really doubted it would be, right? But damn, the boys are firing on all pistons with this one!
Getaway opens up with exciting promise. I can hear this one being (actually, the entire album will be) awesome in a live setting, the whole house jumping and singing along. Its lyrics remind us that the world can be ok, no matter how weird it gets. The first single, Mind Your Manners, is an absolute bomb going off. You’ve heard it, surely, I don’t need to further describe it. My Father’s Son doesn’t let up from the gas pedal at all, the band barrelling full speed ahead. And once again, as all along since Alive, Eddie deals with his Dad, even after his death.
Sirens finally slows things down a bit, and brilliantly so. Eddie really outdoes himself here, and when everything builds, and McCready’s solo… damn! Just a perfect track. I would not be at all surprised if it’s the next single. Lightning Bolt builds and then kicks things in the ass again. The howled chorus is awesome, and the guitars reach primal levels before levelling off (momentarily). Infallible has a great groove, a swing to it, but no less emotion than anything else here. By its resolution it is really soaring.
And then we hit Pendulum, which is so tense, bleak, even. Almost like Pearl Jam recorded a radiohead track! And that’s not a bad thing at all. I love that, after all of these years, the band still brings everything forward, every creative avenue is pursued, and things you would not expect get embraced. And even, in that, it still sounds like them. This is another reason to love this band.
Swallowed Whole’s acoustic intro eventually morphs into a big arena anthem. Hell, I could hear U2 playing those chords, this one is aimed at being and sounding big, another swell that just keeps building. Let The Records Play is just an awesome fist-pumping track. Bluesy, dirty guitars, pounding drums… Let the records play, indeed!
Sleeping By Myself is a pretty acoustic number, very much closer to the ukulele work Eddie has done solo. I was expecting a track like this, and I’m so glad it was such a good one (as if it wasn’t gonna be). Yellow Moon follows, slowing things down even a bit more. Another great performance from Eddie and, in truth, the whole band. To go from balls-out punk/metal rock to this, in the space of a few tracks, is incredible. There’s nothing this band cannot do, one would wager. Future Days closes things out, with a piano intro blending into acoustic guitar. This is a fully positive track, a beautiful final reminder that no matter what pisses them (and all of us) off about this world and the way it is going, there is still hope. Lyrically, it’s a good bookend to the first track.
Thank you, Pearl Jam. It’s been 5 years since your last album, and this was exactly what we needed, we couldn’t have wished for better. Perfection.