Lightning Bolt Review

artist: Pearl Jam date: 10/14/2013 category: compact discs
Pearl Jam: Lightning Bolt
Released: Oct 14, 2013
Genre: Alternative Rock, Post-Grunge
Label: Monkeywrench, Republic
Number Of Tracks: 12
With more mature songwriting and composition than earlier releases, "Lightning Bolt" shows a lot of growth in the band, while retaining the qualities that make them who they are.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 8
 Overall Impression: 7
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overall: 7.7
Lightning Bolt Featured review by: UG Team, on october 14, 2013
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Sound: Pearl Jam formed in 1990, due to Mother Love Bone (the previous incarnation of the band, which was fronted by the late Andrew Wood and disbanded after his death. Pearl Jam was born from the ashes, so to speak, with Eddie Vedder on vocals. Their debut album, "Ten," released in 1991 and rode the way of the growing grunge music, despite the fact that their music doesn't technically meet the defining characteristics of grunge music. From this point the band experienced a great deal of success until in more recent years where they've took a hard stance against several issues within the record industry, and especially a long-standing battle with TicketMaster which did effect their overall availability to their fans. "Lightning Bolt" is the first album from the band in 4 years, and contains songs written within the last 2 years. The album contains 12 tracks and clocks in at just a little under 50 minutes. The first single, "Mind Your Manners" was released in July, and was followed by the second single, "Sirens," in September. The album opens up with the track "Getaway," which is really one of the most grunge-like songs I've heard from Pearl Jam, with a fairly simple chord progression and a bass guitar part that really ties the whole song together. "Mind Your Manners," which was the first single from the album, is the next track, and has a really cool type of "urgency" in the feel to the song and reminiscent of some early punk-pop music. "My Father's Son" sounds more like earlier Pearl Jam material than anything I've heard from them in a while, and some interesting lyrics to boot, with lines like "I am my father's son/ too bad he was a psychopath/ and now I'm next in line." "Sirens" is the second single released from the album, and it also has some of the feel of Pearl Jam's earlier material – a simple rhythm part and a simple hook make this song really catchy and very accessible. The title track, "Lightning Bolt," comes up next and it is one of those tracks that build up throughout the song until it is dominating your attention. "Infallible" is an interesting track, but it very strongly reminds me of QOTSA, but I'm going to assume that was unintentional. "Pendulum" is one of the lighter songs on the album, but it was also the track that won me over to the album – it does a lot towards creating a captivating ambience - using a tambourine and bongos or congos for the percussion, giving the track an almost "tribal" feel. "Swallowed Whole" reminds me of a lot of Pearl Jam's material from their last album, "Backspacer," and also is probably the track most carried by Eddie's vocals. "Let the Records Play" is like experimental blues rock with a strong twist of Pearl Jam's interpretation of the genre. "Let the Records Play" also has the most interesting guitar solo from the album. "Sleeping by Myself" is dominated by Eddie's vocals and uke, and is a melancholy narrative that is basically Pearl Jam's version of a breakup song. The track "Yellow Moon" is another softer track with a rhythm guitar part that seems to just kind of amble along throughout the song, and a nice lead melody adding some extra flavor to the track. The track "Future Days" ends the album, and the intro is a solo piano part, but is then replaced by an acoustic guitar – basically think of this as a very stripped down track, joined by some further instrumentation for brief periods for the remainder song. // 8

Lyrics: Eddie Vedder is an interesting dude, and one of the best vocalists to come out of the '90s. He wrote the music for about half the songs on the album and did an excellent job with both the lyrics and vocals. I was mostly impressed comparing his voice to their first few albums, and noticed that he seems to have as much vitality in his vocals as when Pearl Jam first came out. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from the track "Let the Records Play": "When the kingdom comes/ he puts the records on/ and with his blistered thumb/ Hits play/ And with the volume up/ he goes and fills his cup/ and lets the drummer drum/ Take away the pain, the pain/ Breaking/ Forsaken/ What's that you're taking? / Bleeding the feeling/ he lets the records play." // 8

Overall Impression: I wasn't a huge fan of their last album, "Backspacer," so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from "Lightning Bolt," but when all is said and done I am fairly impressed with the album. My favorite tracks from the album would have to be "Pendulum," "Yellow Moon," "Let the Records Play," and "My Father's Son." I feel like the album did a great job of tying together where the band started from and where they are today. Every member of Pearl Jam is a true contributor to the band, and you can really hear this in their music, or by just looking at the credits for each song. I feel like the drums and bass were much more complimentary to the music than they have been previously, as well. I hope we don't have to wait 4 more years for their next album. // 7

- Brandon East (c) 2013

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