Lightning Bolt... Strikes out
Review: Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
Published on October 21st, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam’s tenth, marks the first time that we’ve ever truly engaged with one of their albums.
Bad way to start a review? Well, that depends on how much stock you place on the perspective of an outsider/newcomer.
If you consider it to be an illegitimate take on proceedings, you should probably stop reading now and spare yourself the overwhelming temptation to leave an angry comment at the bottom.
You’re entirely welcome to do so, of course; we just thought that you might have other things planned for your day, and we’d hate to distract you from them.
So anyway, no, we ain’t ever really listened to all that much Pearl Jam…and on the evidence of Lightning Bolt, we shan’t be delving backwards in a hurry.
As stodgy, hoary America-fuck-yeah-rock goes it’s actually reasonably smart, with some considered melodies and progressions making decent fists of the tangential, ’60s-plundering title track, the huffing, trudging “Infallible” and the otherwise off-puttingly stadium-friendly “Sirens”.
However, there is practically nothing of any interest either side of this three-track run, bar the bittersweet bordering-on-country-pop of “Sleeping By Myself”.
Eddie Vedder’s gruffly keening vocals are for the most part a turn-off, so the brief flashes of halfway memorable melody are pretty much the sole saving grace of Lightning Bolt.
The titular crowding out of Lightning Bolt, a far less popular yet many times more fascinating band, is also cause for consternation.
Well done to any hardcore Pearl Jam fans still reading by this point. We similarly congratulated ourselves on listening to the end of Lightning Bolt. Twice, just to make sure we weren’t missing anything.
And don’t give us this “you need to listen to it at least fifteen times to realise its genius” nonsense. It’s Pearl Jam, not bloody Can; it’s straightforward, self-explanatory and ultimately kinda perfunctory.
Lightning Bolt is out now on Monkeywrench.
Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!