pearl jamPEARL JAM – Lightning Bolt
Pearl Jam are one of the Seattle ‘Big Four’ whose singers managed to survive the height of their fame. So whilst Alice in Chains and Nirvana fans are left fantasizing about what could have been, PJers have been subjected to a steady stream of album output every few years since 1991. The irony of Lightning Bolt is that, musically, it strikes the same chord more than once. The style and composition are all too similar to their more recent work with nothing even remotely new to make a seasoned listener sit up and take notice. The decision seems to have been made a long time ago that PJ music will follow a certain direction and any off-the-wall ideas will be delegated to their side projects or solo work. Vedder’s ukulele rendition of Dream a Little Dream was never going to be on a PJ album was it? Although lead single ‘Mind Your Manners’ is one of the better tracks, it could easily have been filler on Backspacer or their 2006 eponymous avocado-bearing CD. One thing Pearl Jam have always delivered is a cracking ballad; think Black, Indifference, and Inside Job. Lightning Bolt has a half-hearted attempt at adding to that list but second single ‘Sirens’ just doesn’t have the angst and tension of the aforementioned classics.  These criticisms for a band in their third decade are hardly new and are almost inevitable. They were never going to write another Ten or Vs, the same way Nirvana were never going to write another Nevermind, nor AIC another Dirt. The difference is that (recent Jerry Cantrell ‘solo’ AIC albums aside) their fans were spared the disappointing mediocrity that would have inevitably followed.  Whereas PJers have the dubious privilege of being served up a distinctly harmless Lightning Bolt.  (6)




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