As one of modern rock’s most robust and indefatigable bands, Pearl Jam has time and again produced quality music through more than their share of adversity. With a sound and style that seems to divide most people right down the middle, either loving or hating them, they’ve managed over 20 years of live performances with a mostly original line-up, and what is soon to be 11 studio albums (Lost Dogs totally counts) – the latest of which is the über-cool Lightning Bolt.
This latest release is one of substance, variation and, most importantly, huge noise. Those with their ears to the ground will have heard the singles Mind Your Manners and Sirens, both of which are great; the former, a return to form, the latter, a brilliantly crafted ballad with the insight and wisdom that frontman Eddie Vedder seems to have always had. Further listening will reveal more gems – brilliant opener Getaway, a full-band rendition of Sleeping By Myself – which fans will recognise from Vedder’s solo work, giving them a whole new concept to sink their teeth into – and the tasty styling of Infallible provides an anthemic quality to the album.
From the aforementioned track’s unexpected and classic chord progression, to the epic reverb-ridden soundtrack of Pendulum, to the mournful, heartfelt and lachrymose Future Days, Lightning Bolt covers all bases, maintaining a singular voice, yet exploring a multitude of sounds simultaneously. While their albums are starting to look formulaic, the band manages to find new ways to impress and inspire. True to their nature, Pearl Jam just aren’t slowing down.
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