Uneven flowhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/uneven-flow/

Uneven flow

Lightning Bolt,their 10th offering,opens with Getaway,a spunky starter cast in a tight and safe verse-chorus-verse format.

Music: Lightning Bolt

Singer: Pearl Jam


Price: Rs 928

Rating: ***

A friend once remarked that a sign of an iconic rock band selling out is when they get rid of their untamed locks. He quickly rattled off some names,cautioning that the only entity in rock this does not apply to is Eddie Vedder,Pearl Jam’s vocalist. Would he strike Vedder’s name off from his list of exceptions after their latest: the pop-rock-heavy Lightning Bolt? I think not. Sell-out is too harsh for a band which has helped pioneer grunge,which in turn exemplified the alternative music scene of the early 90s. Pearl Jam’s contribution to rock goes beyond just modelling a genre.

Lightning Bolt,their 10th offering,opens with Getaway,a spunky starter cast in a tight and safe verse-chorus-verse format. Written by Vedder,the song tips its hat to Backspacer’s punk vibe and makes way for the more orthodox Mind your manners.

Released on July 11 as a single,the song inherits the recessive angry gene from the Riot Act days. Mind your manners is the only song where Mike Mc Cready,PJ’s lead guitarist,lashes out a brief,speedy,sweeping solo. Let it not spoil you and leave you pining,for the album’s posterity do not bear McCready’s gems.


The anger and energy that peaks with Mind your manners,slumps with My father’s son. Enter acoustic guitars and a serenading Vedder asking the listener to Hear the sirens. This was the second teaser to the album,which was released as a single on September 8,probably to balance Mind your manners’ projection of the album. The ballady Sirens is fit to serve as the album’s mascot,bringing us to the title song Lightning bolt,which makes you understand why Pearl Jam is often credited for keeping classic rock alive and thriving. Lightning bolt is a dazzler,and if we were playing the guitar riffs to this song,we’d definitely fit in a trademark Angus Young foot-tap,while playing the chorus and throw in some Jimmy Page swagger and jive during the solo.

The rest of the songs from the dozen in the album are alt-rock and new wave explorations,not making much effort to tread musical landscapes beyond the genres’ horizons. Towards the end,the band makes a couple of clean offerings — Sleeping by myself and Yellow moon.

Like Woody Allen,Pearl Jam works on the quantity principle. While the former has been belting out a movie each year for nearly half a century now,PJ has been cutting an album every two years for a little over two decades. True to both their cases,the sea of genius sometimes witnesses oil-spills. Here’s looking forward to the greatest PJ album ever. Lightning Bolt,however,is not the chosen one.