Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
Rs 395 (CD)
You can’t badmouth Pearl Jam. For over two decades, they have been the last Seattle grunge band standing undisturbed and without any hiatuses or glitzy solo breakaway members (I’m looking at you, Chris Cornell from Soundgarden). People still keep coming back for whatever Pearl Jam has to offer, and they never leave disappointed. That’s the case with the band’s tenth studio album.
For all those years they’ve stuck together and released album after album, there’s the realization that they’ve become a bit dated. Most of the tunes on Lightning Bolt are meant for another generation, although it tries very hard to snap up new fans with pop rock numbers like ‘Infallible’. But that’s track number six. If you abide by the track list, there are five of the most energetic and eclectic songs the band has ever put out – from the get-angry stomper ‘Mind Your Manners’ to the all-guitars-blazing title track ‘Lightning Bolt’ and the half-psychedelic trip ‘Sirens’.
If you heard their last album, the mostly-fun Backspacer , from back in 2009, you’d think that they’ve carried the same format of progressing from energetic to mired in thought, reflective music through the course of their album. It certainly works, because you know that they’re the kind of band, and Eddie Vedder is the kind of vocalist, who would like to ponder out loud. His vocals suit ponderings as well, like ‘Swallowed Whole’, which sounds like a tree-hugger’s perfect anthem of being one with nature. But then you hear ‘Let The Records Play’, Vedder’s voice soothing you to feel-goodsville over some Southern rock riffs. They interchange the heavy with the soft, like the folk-rock ‘Sleeping By Myself’.
That’s obviously the great mark of an alternative rock band – they can mix it up without boring you much at all. And the fact that Pearl Jam has been doing this for the past 10 albums with few complaints is a sign that they’ve aged gracefully.