ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Lightning Bolt’ by Pearl Jam

Dan’s in-depth look at Lightning Bolt will be coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a straight to the point run down from Clint:


I have a theory that all bands who last more than 20 years eventually turn into The Rolling Stones.  That’s not to say they fight amongst themselves and fall out of coconut trees, but that they end up producing music that sounds like a classic rock version of themselves, no matter how edgy they were when they started out.  Pearl Jam are now in this category.  It doesn’t help impressions when Eddie Vedder’s new haircut makes him look like Bruce Springsteen either.  This is not a criticism, I love all of these bands, it’s purely an observation.  If you can name me a band who’s 10th album sounds as new and edgy, or as groundbreaking as their first, go ahead in the comments below.

Right, now that’s out of the way, what does this album sound like?  It’s mostly great, the best thing they’ve released in ages.  And this is part of the problem.  This is what I say every time one of these bands releases a new record.  It’s great to hear something new from them, but I’ll probably listen to it half a dozen times and then go back to VS, or in the Stones’ case, Exile on Main St, or in Bruce’s case, Born To Run, or in Iggy’s case, Raw Power, or in Foo Fighters’ case…you get the picture.

One early review of this record on another site raised some of these points and asked why Pearl Jam were still together if this was the best they could offer?  Why keep releasing a variation of the same record over and over?  The answer is because they’re not done yet.  They haven’t finished making music together.  And as a band that’s actively tried to shed its audience for the last 17 years, if no one buys it they probably still won’t be finished.  If you’re one of the people who’s stuck around since the beginning then this is for you.  If you were over them by 1993, this won’t change your mind.  Pearl Jam make music for themselves.  If you like hearing their artistic endeavours, then this is the best thing they’ve released since *insert your favourite album here*, and that alone is worth picking it up.

Personally, I love it.

Rating – 8 old bastards still making better music than you out of 10

By Clint Morrow


2 Replies to “ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Lightning Bolt’ by Pearl Jam”

  1. Pearl Jam was mystically blessed in their debut release and I don’t expect anyone to outdo Ten – not even Pearl Jam. I don’t know if it was just the time frame it happened to fall into, Andrew’s recent death, or maybe it was a few extra helpings of Aunt Pearls special recipe – whatever it was, it remains special and untouchable by many standards.

    I’ve picked up every new release since and Ten still gets more wear and tear – but I blame my own prejudices mostly. That all said, I really like Lightening Bolt – there are a lot of interesting moments and I swear I heard a restrained echo of a ukulele on one of the tracks.

    I don’t know if this quite qualifies for your challenge, but Michael Patton has been releasing music for over 20 years now and he is nowhere near a classic rock version of himself. The latest Tomahawk album stands alone as unique and amazing.

    1. That may be so, but Mike Patton has continually changed formats and collaborators, and I think that’s the difference. If he was still doing Faith No More records, by now they’d sound like classic rock Faith No More records, because that’s what those guys do.

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