This 10th studio album by Pearl Jam is, as much of their earlier albums have been, a combination of two distinct approaches. One, the veterans’ trademark grunge sound, and secondly a more laidback, acoustic-style songwriting approach.
Frontman Eddie Vedder leads the mood and feel of each song, whatever its design. And the first half of ‘Lightning Bolt’, the mellow verses of ‘Sirens’ (video below) excepted, is a breathless experience.
‘Infallible’ is one of many standout fast-paced grunge tracks to arrive during this first half, and the strength of Vedder’s hard-hitting vocals shows that he’s sounding as strong as he did when the band emerged into rock superstardom in the early 1990s.
Of the acoustic-rooted tracks, the lyrically direct album closer ‘Future Days’, which comes two tracks after the lonely lyrics of the Jeff Buckley-like ‘Sleeping By Myself, is a highlight. It’s an optimistic affair, reflecting the band’s more rounded position in life as middle-aged men with kids.
Which, at first, may ring alarm bells. How dare they sing about contentment? Isn’t the point of a rock band to express disdain? But ‘Future Days’ isn’t much of a rocker, possessing strands of Irish folk.
It’s a great album closer, though, putting to bed a record that, like an overactive child, isn’t quite tired yet. This set is teeming with energy despite its down moments, and demands to be played again in its entirety as soon as it ends.
Words: Cai Trefor
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Stream tracks by Pearl Jam via Deezer, below…