Lightning strikes the music spotlight again and this is not to imply rarity, but to infer a repeat process. Pearl Jam is at it again and hardly anything is all that different. It’s not strong, but it’s not weak and luckily the band has a strong enough background to justify their recent release, “Lightning Bolt”, for another round of touring.
This Seattle based grunge rock band isn’t ready to walk away from the music scene yet. With four years since their last album, “Lightning Bolt” is Pearl Jam’s 10th LP. The album starts off in typical PJ fashion with loud power balladry and comes to an end with a somewhat soft whisper.
Pearl Jam does decent, beginning with “Getaway”, a mid-tempo classic rock lecture on the burn of religion and a stress on the importance of science. Then it transitions into “Mind Your Manners”, with a mosh inducing punk sound.
It’s somewhat unclear if front man Eddie Vedder is starting to sense his own mortality on tracks like, “Pendelum”. But Vedder addressed this misconception and explained further his new thought process in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“I used to think getting through adolescence was going to be the hard part,” Vedder said. “It’s watching other people getting old, dealing with people’s mortality. A lot of us live in denial given how we treat our bodies. So you extend it and start treating yourself a little better.”
With this mindset, it’s obvious that Vedder and his two decade band are starting to bring their maturity into music. Their sound is still the same, but it lacks any kind of the young angst shared in the hard rock flannel wearing days of the 90s.
“Swallowed Hole” is the only track on the release that seems reminiscent of old school PJ. The track “Sirens” actually hits the ears quite well, with underlying piano melodies and Vedder’s soft grungy voice. It seems that this could actually make for a pretty great hit.
The band starts to wave its slow goodbye with dreamy songs like “Yellow Moon”, which is arguably the worst track on the album. Call me crazy, but Vedder’s mumbles do not make for a smooth ride out.
The last track is called “Future Days” and lyrically is the most on point track on the album. Through a soothing ballad we gain faith that painful days of early adulthood are behind us. We may begin to get better if we find the ones we love to ‘anchor’ us down just right.
At some point you have to respect Pearl Jam. At least they didn’t try to keep up with the changing times by re-releasing the EDM version of “Vitalogy”. Instead it’s understood that the band is growing old with its long rooted fans.
Honestly, this album is mediocre at best, but the band still proves its relevancy to rock music. In a time where alternative has seemingly hit a large road block, Vedder and Pearl Jam show us that not all faith is lost.