Completely Biased Album Review – Lightning Bolt

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Music
Tags: ,


Pearl Jam with BoomThe past couple of days in Timmins haven’t been great; cold (plus 4 Celsius/39 Fahrenheit), raining and just been a “typical fall” in Canada and with the weather changes comes with the first batch of chili! Since I was a kid, my dad showed me how to make chili but never wrote it down. He gave the basic ingredients (sauce, diced tomatoes, meat, peppers, mushrooms) but always told me “chili is something you can never screw it up; you have the basic ingredients but can add spices, not us as much, whatever you want and it’ll still be chili.” When Pearl Jam announced that they were streaming their new album Lightning Bolt a week early on iTunes, it then dawned on me that they are chili.

It can easily be argued that their first two albums (Ten and Vs.) set a benchmark for the band but it was an industry standard. They were making music they wanted to but the sound needed to be what the time was: grunge. Vitalogy and No Code really broke the norm for the band and even divided listeners (the number of people I’ve argued with over the greatness that those albums bring to the table are countless) but it wasn’t really until Yield that the band really hit their stride. Needless to say, it was interesting to see what direction the band went with Lightning Bolt.

The album eases you in with “Getaway” (a decent, mid-tempo song) before blowing the doors off with the first single “Mind Your Manners”. From there, the rest of the album takes the mid-tempo feel that “Getaway” started with. The third track, “My Father’s Son”, will have you nodding to the beat and “Sirens”, the second single and fourth song, has great transition into an amazing Mike McCready guitar solo. Title track “Lightning Bolt”, “Infallible”, and “Pendulum” are all good songs but at the same time don’t necessarily grab your attention the same way the first four have. But that will soon change.

“Swallowed Whole” reminded me of “Thin Air” with the repetition (during which you’ll quickly be humming along) but a more up-beat version. “Let the Records Play” is, by far, the biggest surprise that the band has done to date; a deep, bluesy guitar riff that was featured for the “Hatchet” vignette. “Sleeping by Myself” is a more complete version of the ukulele song released by Ed Vedder back in 2011 and “Yellow Moon” is a good transition song into, arguably the best song, “Future Days”.

No, “Future Days” will not knock your socks off like “Mind Your Manners” but it’s great for so many more reasons. We were given a sneak peek at the song when they debut it at Wrigley Field this past summer but the quality was never the best; hearing the studio version puts the song over the top with the layers they put on the song and it’s a great way to end the record.

Overall, this record is better than Backspacer and Riot Act but not quite as heavy as Yield. It had great flow, gave you some amazing guitar solos, and had deep lyrics that brought emotions to the front. Clocking in at just over 47 minutes, Lightning Bolt could single-handedly crown Pearl Jam as the “Masters of Mid-Tempo” simply because all of the songs found you tapping your toe to the beats but never changing too much. The best thing about Pearl Jam making a new album is that you can put all the guys into a room with their ideas, from song to song it varies as to who has more input, but they always turn out perfect…just like chili.

Thanks for reading and stay connected with me on Twitter: @ChrisFudali


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