Reviews – Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt (2013 LP)

This review was published on the AU review on 14/10/2013 and can be viewed on their website here.

Seattle rockers, Pearl Jam’s 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, is a mixed bag of punk, metal, rock, ballad and acoustic with a touch of ukulele.

For this release, PJ conducted many aspects of the album in an unconventional manner. Despite the modern technologies available at hand, Eddie Vedder typed much of the lyrics for this release on a typewriter. Additionally, the band exclusively granted interviews with only four handpicked individuals – all with connections to various band members – ahead of the release of the album: comedic film director Judd Apatow, Aussie champion surfer Mark Richards, former American Football player Steve Gleason, and singer/actor Carrie Brownstein.

The album kicks off with the poppy “Getaway”, heading straight into the drum-driven, guitar-shredding metal-inspired “Mind Your Manners“. As quick as the album rises in energy it drops to a slow, acoustic pace with second single off the album, the balladry “Sirens“, creating sadness in the listener. Sombre album closer “Future Days” has a Cat Stevens-esque feel to it.

In 2011, vocalist Eddie Vedder released a solo album, Ukulele Songs, and in Lightning Bolt, the unique instrument is snuck in towards the conclusion of the album in “Sleeping By Myself” (which features on the aforementioned solo album).

Overall, despite the mix of genres throughout the release, Vedder’s vocals lack in range, which results in the album becoming a bore to listen to at times. Rather than jolting you with energy, the album leaves you in a sombre mood. At first I didn’t think the album was that great, however, as I watched more and more videos of the aforementioned interviews and listened to the album over and over again, I grew fonder of the songs with each listen.

Review Score: 8.4 out of 10 – AU APRROVED!

Lightning Bolt is out now through Universal.

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