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Music Review: Pearl Jam's 'Lightning Bolt' fizzles out

Music Review: Pearl Jam's 'Lightning Bolt' fizzles out

Pearl Jam, "Lightning Bolt" (Monkeywrench/Republic)

October 19th, 2013 by MATTHEW KEMP, Associated Press in News

Pearl Jam's "Lightning Bolt" is a rock jukebox set to shuffle.

The Seattle survivors' 10th studio album is erratically paced and skips from punk rock attacks to power ballads to AOR offerings in a schizophrenic playlist. Recorded over two years with longtime collaborator Brendan O'Brien and with four songwriters writing independently, it's no surprise the LP often feels like a compilation album rather than a fully realized collection.

Like its 2009 predecessor "Backspacer," "Lightning Bolt" kicks off with three stadium-leveling belters. The solid "Getaway" is piggybacked by furiously kinetic first single "Mind Your Manners" - a close cousin to the band's 1994 track "Spin the Black Circle" - and accusatory scream-a-long "My Father's Son."

Then comes "Sirens," a slow-burning torch song built around the importance of love in the face of mortality. This is the most unashamedly sentimental song the band has ever released and stands to become a first dance fixture at weddings across the globe. Equally surprising is state-of-the-nation address "Infallible," which somehow manages to ape both the keyboard line from The Dead Weather's "Treat Me Like Your Mother" and the melodic line from Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".

Elsewhere, there's the Eddie Vedder-penned title track and "Swallowed Whole" - two enjoyable, mid-tempo rockers about the majesty of nature - and the ethereal "Pendulum", which marries echo-laden, snaking guitar work and a whispered, conspiratorial vocal to stunning effect.

Sadly, "Lightning Bolt" loses its spark during its closing quartet, including hackneyed stomper "Let The Records Play" (lyrics include, "With the volume up, he goes and fills his cup and lets the drummer's drum take away the pain") and ballads "Sleeping By Myself," "Yellow Moon" and "Future Days" - tracks that will provide plenty of opportunities for fans to trek to the bar at their upcoming gigs.

Pearl Jam's recent albums have started with a bang, but ended with a whimper and "Lightning Bolt" is no exception. As Vedder intones on "Getaway," "Sometimes you find yourself being told to change your ways - there's no way."

Link:

pearljam.com