Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
I had a big internal debate with myself over this one. Not because I wasn't sure that I loved this album, but I wasn't sure if writing up a band like Pearl Jam was appropriate. After all, this is the site with the tagline, “the best music you're not listening to”. Let's be honest, a LOT of people listen to this band and have heard this album. In the end, though, I had to do it, because this album is just that good.
When you're a band with 20 plus years under your belt and a very stable lineup once Matt Cameron jumped on board, you know what you're doing. That is exactly what this one sounds like. Every note, every lyric, everything was put in place exactly as these guys wanted it. It might be the best album they've ever recorded.
The funny thing is, maybe not that many people have heard this. Pearl Jam have a diehard fan base, but the general public jumped off their band wagon a long time ago. Ten literally changed music, and you can argue over who really was the first grunge band, but its hard to make a strong case for any other album that really put grunge on the map. Vs came out and people were still on board. That one is still my favorite Pearl Jam record. But then Vitalogy came out and people jumped ship en masse. And everything else they've put out has flown under the radar with the average rock fan. I know people who have never given them a listen after their 2nd album. You have missed out on a great set of albums and one of the great rock bands in the world today. But here is where you can catch up.
“Lightning Bolt” opens up with a nice mid-tempo rocker called “Getaway” which would be right on home on any of their last 3 or 4 releases. “Mind Your Manners” comes next, a good punky feeling song that would work on any of their previous albums. Same with “My Father's Son” and “Lightning Bolt”, the title track. I have to say that it's really a shame that pop, Top 40 music just doesn't embrace rock music much anymore. If it did, “Lightning Bolt” would be a chart topper, its just a great pop song. “Sirens” comes in between the previous two tracks, and is a little bit of departure but not much. It does have probably the best solo on any Pearl Jam song ever. Not because its flashy and all over the place, but because it is beautiful, well crafted, and just fits the song to a T.
Then “Infallible” comes along and changes the game up. They've never written a song quite like this one and it where, on this album, they show how much they have stretched and grown as song writers and musicians. “Pendulum” does the same, not so much that it doesn't sound like Pearl Jam, but that they've made their sound with some different instrumentation. “Let The Records Play” is as close to a blues song that they've ever done, and another change up. And the whole thing wraps up with “Future Days”, just an absolutely beautiful love song. All of these tracks show a band that even 22 years in are still experimenting, still growing, still in love with what they do. They do it oh so well these days, and its a shame that they don't have the following they did when they burst on the scene. If you haven't stuck with these guys, jump back on the bandwagon. This one is worth it.