Album Review | Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Easy come, easy go
Easy left me a long time ago

“You gotta know you’ll never let her go,” Eddie Vedder sings. “She’s a lightning bolt.” Of course, that’s on the title track, a song that reaffirms Vedder’s never-ending youth as a vocalist — the man just doesn’t slow down.

We’re hit soundly from the start, during the opening and rocking “Getaway” where Vedder unloads, “Everyone’s a critic looking back up the river.” It’s a fine and loose way to begin Pearl Jam’s tenth studio album, moving the needle in the direction where laurels don’t rest.  Vedder hits the high notes on the single, “Sirens,” a radio-friendly effort, but also a genuine and successful attempt at being direct: “I didn’t care, before you were here / I danced in laughter with the ever after / But all things change, let this remain.” Mike McCready’s solo near the end of the song is near-perfect, clearly leaving a brilliant mark on something so pristine.

The biggest chance I hear being taken on this album is on one of the best songs, “Pendulum,” which leads with a slow build-up of mystery, musically and lyrically. “My shadow left me long ago,” Vedder sings, and that sentiment seems very real here. As far as feeling and conviction go, “Pendulum” is Vedder and Pearl Jam at their very best.

What I also appreciate about this album is its unflinching grace. The closing “Future Days” is warm, and will probably be accused of being cheesy. I say so be it. Be as loud and metal as you wish, but you’re always hiding behind something, and “Future Days” hides nothing. And that is why Lightning Bolt shines: because it is everything it wants to be.

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