Age has yet to become a transparent component of Pearl Jam’s being, as the band of late 40-somethings prove that they can indeed still rock on their latest Lightning Bolt. At times the songs may seem choppy or punchy, or an overall consistency of misplaced energy, Eddie Vedder and company nonetheless produce a heavily matured product for their tenth studio album.
The tracks fly by at a nearly alarming rate, save for “Sirens” which lingers on like a cut off Vitalogy, it is clearly the standout song – and well deserved. The line “Oh, it’s a fragile thing, this life we lead/If I think too much I can’t get overwhelmed by the grace by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders” is a sincere fatalist Vedder coming out, a version of whom has never quite reared his head.
Bloated would be an imprudent manner in which to describe the rest of Lighting Bolt, unfortunately it’s somewhat applicable. There is some saving grace with “Infallible” and the closing track “Future Days”, but the rest feels unmemorable and dated. The listening experienced is somewhat hindered when your mind continually wanders during tracks due to wondering when the sonic scapes are going to kick in and polish themselves with that last bit of substance.
All things in consideration, Pearl Jam has never appeared more fixated on their underlying transience, which is an enormously important aspect of the album. It is just difficult to listen to Pearl Jam craft so many songs in such a benign and tame manner that makes one wonder if their comfortableness with themselves musically is starting to sink in too deep.
Key Tracks: “Sirens,” “Infallible”
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.