Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt

Pearl Jam is back with a new album this week, Lightning Bolt, and it’s in the same vein as 2009’s Backspacer, and that means shorter, punchier songs that invite repeated listening and stick in your brain longer. The band is doing nothing but getting straight to the point on each track, and that’s a very good thing.

“Mind Your Manners,” the lead single, brings back mosh pit memories, featuring some of the punk energy PJ has often flirted with in the past, but this time it feels more like putting on comfortable shoes than stomping on broken glass.

The standout track is “Sirens” and it’s got “classic” written all over it, but not forced at all. It’s easy, it sneaks up on you and stays with you for days. You’ll find yourself humming it next week.

The album closes with “Future Days,” featuring some pretty piano by producer Brendan O’Brien and a nice, Americana feel.

The musicianship is top-notch, which isn’t surprising since the band has been sounding tight and focused since Backspacer. Vedder’s singing is as good as it’s ever been, maybe even better.

Lightning Bolt may not break any new ground, it may default to midtempo rocking more than Backspacer did, and Pearl Jam is definitely in the comfortable sweater phase of their career, but it sounds great and you can listen to it over and over again.

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