’s Early Track By Track Review Of Pearl Jam’s New Album Lightning Bolt representative Joost attended the listening party in Amsterdam for Pearl Jam’s new album Lightning Bolt. He has shared the following track by track first impression review of the album:

Ed sings about ‘Dark stormy weather’ over an pounding bass driven riff. It sounded ‘contemporary’, heavy and light at the same time. Dark lyrics but incredibly catchy melodies. The song boasts two blistering Mike solos and really strong vocals by Ed. A rocking pop tune akin to The Fixer or Breakerfall (not that they have much in common) but less classic rock. It leans more contemporary (like the Arctic Monkeys and The Killers had a lovechild).

Mind Your Manners:
A good hard punch after a “Getaway” rounding out a strong combo to start this record.

My Father’s Son:
When they tried ‘new wave’ type songs on Backspacer they only succeeded on “Got Some”. They also succeed here with tight playing, heavy bass, and a weird bridge (a ‘typical’ Matt bridge). There’s a lot going on in this bridge. It was not an experimental song. I already want to hear it again. Another dark heavy pop tune.

The song that some already say is the best the band has ever written. Well, it could very well be a sleeper and the one I will like the most in about a year or so. But on first listen it didn’t do much for me. Until Sirens, Pearl Jam never came as close to an ‘eighties’ power ballad. Mike wrote this song and is very proud of it, he said on the EPK (which featured interviews done by: Judd Apatow, Carrie Brownstein, and more). Not impressed with this one on first listen.

Lightning Bolt:
After being slightly disappointed by Sirens, Lightning Bolt felt like a celebration. We’ve all heard the live version of which I was not too keen. But it does sound much better on album. It reached higher than “Unthought Known”. Still, a song that Eddie could write in his sleep. But it’s not a nightmare.

My first notes say: YES, YES, YES!!! This is exactly what I wanted from a new Pearl Jam record. They cover new ground here. Another bass heavy track (probably written by Jeff who owns this record). Excellent use of keyboards and weird effects. Lots of harmonies in vocals and instruments. Did I hear a cowbell (not sure on that)? It was the song I liked the most and their most experimental one in a decade. It’s hard to describe. If you have heard Jeff’s latest solo record While My Heart Beats, you can get a feeling of what to expect here. Think Incubus goes Achtung Baby, for the lack of a better description.

Remember that tour announcement video Pearl Jam posted some time ago with a mystery new song clip? If you liked the weird sounds you were hearing then you will love this song because it’s the mystery song “Pendulum”. Some nice piano played for the intro. Another atmospheric and experimental track (it was at this point where I started to believe that Pearl Jam really made that record I ‘wanted’ from them). What’s that high sound? High Pitch vocals? Wow! It’s Ed! He has never sounded like this before. The harmonies again sound great. Lots and lots of dubbed vocals. Tight compressed drums. Another excellent track!

Swallowed Whole:
Another Ed track and nice counterpart to ‘Lightning Bolt’. This is actually a great pop song, some jangle jingle REM like guitars with some Who-like chords under it. Another song that Ed could write in his sleep but on first listen I liked this one more that LB.

Let The Records Play:
Ladies and Gentlemen…it’s time to kick out the jams and twist and shout. Roll over Beethoven, Jack White and Dan Auerbach…This is Pearl Jam’s take on a blues rock featuring hand claps and tube-screaming solos. A light and fun song, much better than “Supersonic”. Not the best track on the record but I had a huge smile on my face. Nothing original but new for Pearl Jam. Will be fun live.

Sleeping By Myself:
Why? Why Ed? Why Brendan? Why is this on the record? It doesn’t belong. Basically it’s the same as the ukelele song only with some arrangements. The arrangements are nice but they don’t add much. I liked the ukelele version much much better. That was its home. Feels out of place here. Uninspiring moment for the band. But who knows, it could very well be the next single and become a hit. But “Of The Earth” or “Cold Confession” would be a much better fit here. Fuck even “Olé” would have been better.

Yellow Moon:
Another dark and atmospheric song. This will definitely be a sleeper that grows on me. It has weird time signatures, some great vocals, and a really nice solo by Mike. Another song that I already want to hear again.

Future Days:
Much better than the live version. It still has that Springsteen sound. Nice touches with the violin and no drums. The cheesy piano out-ro actually works here. It fades out. Not the best track on the record but a good way to end this record.

So, it’s impossible for me to go beyond my first impressions. But I think it will be better than Backspacer. It’s a darker and more atmospheric record with some great gems. It’s half of the record I really wanted from them (Getaway, My Father’s Son, Infallible, Pendulum, Let The Records Play, Yellow Moon) and half of what you have heard from this band before (Mind Your Manners, Sirens, Lightning Bolt, Sleeping By Myself, Swallowed Whole, Future Days). The latter would be the logical extension from Backspacer but the first half is 50% of an incredible record – the record they didn’t make. They could have gone Achtung Baby or Yankee Foxtrot Hotel on us but didn’t. This will be a great record but I already have mixed feelings over what could have been.

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    check this out …
    1 – Mind Your Manners
    2 – Let The Records Play
    3 – Sirens
    4 – Getaway
    5 – Lightning Bolt
    6 – Future Days
    7 – Coal Mine Fuckers
    8 – Yellow Moon
    9 – Ghost Riders
    10 – Sleeping By Myself
    11 – Jigsaw Command
    12 – The Apple’s Core
    13 – Toy Guns
    14 – Kernal Of Truth
    15 – New World Order
    16 – Swallowed Whole
    17 – War Path
    18 – Bitch On Fire
    19 – Justice?
    20 – Moon Hoax
    21 – Of The Earth
    22 – Bridge Over Water
    23 – Your Insanity
    24 – My Fathers Son
    25 – Clockwork
    26 – Demons Forgetten
    27 – Rocking The Blue Town
    28 – Masters Of Division
    29 – Octive Higher
    30 – Victory
    31 – Little Miracles
    32 – Good President
    33 – Ugly Shoes
    34 – Soldier Of Love
    35 – Answering The Gods
    36 – The Punk
    37 – Holy Wars
    38 – Stereo Typical
    39 – Alternate Universe
    40 – Bombstatic Erratic
    41 – Homeless (Acoustic)
    42 – Crossroads
    43 – Something Inside So Strong
    44 – What A Wonderful World
    45 – Chris’ Message
    46 – Homeless ( Rocking Version )
    47 – What The Funk
    48 – Believe You Me
    49 – I’m Alive
    50 – What The Fuck
    51 – Devolution
    52 – Police Man
    53 – Can’t Hate
    54 – Jeremy Part 2
    55 – Bold Print
    56 – Guitar Logic
    57 – Superman Of Jupiter
    58 – Invalid
    59 – Honeybears
    60 – Evenflow ( Surf Rock Version )
    61 – You See?
    62 – Montana
    63 – Reflex
    64 – Ordinary
    65 – Jam Out The Kicks ( MC5 Tribute Version )
    66 – Flower Power
    67 – Kampy
    68 – Seattle Dog
    69 – Z For Vengence
    70 – Biker Miles
    71 – Dusty Unfazed
    72 – Kurt’s Bible
    73 – Neptune Fish
    74 – Rocket
    75 – Open For Business
    76 – Strawberry Law
    77 – Hexagon Dealer
    78 – Cigars And Whiskey
    79 – Mr. Drummer
    80 – George The Ghost
    81 – Naked Monsters
    82 – Clueless
    83 – Joyfulness
    84 – Right Wing Apologys
    85 – Spoiled
    86 – Game Over
    87 – All Along The Watertowers ( Jimmy Hendrix Tribute Version )
    88 – Crazy Life
    89 – Leader Of The Rats
    90 – Your Burden
    91 – Face Value
    92 – The Empire State
    93 – Joeys Alone
    94 – The Ice Age
    95 – Ole Part 2
    96 – Kickback
    97 – Stoned To Build
    98 – Note To Self
    99 – Ballbreaker
    100 – Brotherhood Of Man
    Thats 100 complete song titles from Pearl Jams new album LIGHTNING BOLT , to be released on CD , October 2013 and on VINYL , September 2013. Enjoy it all and YES THIS IS 100% ORIGINAL MATERIAL, ALL RECORDED AND ENGINEERED BY PEARL JAM AND BRENDAN O’ BRIEN.
    Enjoy :)

    • Corporal Perdidor

      Haha jeremy part 2.

  • SuperSG

    Holy Jesus, mayan what are you snorting? Where can I get some?

    • GwynnKatie

      I can’t believe he typed The Whole Thing.

  • Boom

    Nice review. Can’t say I agree with you calling it Alternativenation’s review of Lightning Bolt though.
    It’s some other dudes review. Edit your title and call it his. You always seem to do this Brett’s dad. Smarten up

    • Brett Buchanan

      Boom, I want high traffic.

      • Boom

        Then I will agree it makes sense

        • Brett Buchanan

          Also Joost wrote it specifically for the site. The review is our review as somebody wrote it exclusively for the site.

      • GwynnKatie

        Ahhh. Commerce. :D

  • John D

    To me it sounds like this album will be Backspacer B-side punk leftovers and a whole lot of experimenting! WTF??! 4+years guys!
    Make a solid rock record! That’s what your true fans want…..even if it’s another “Yield Lite” like Avocado. Backspacer is forgettable besides Unthought Known, Amongst the Waves and Just Breathe.
    I bet the only reason they didn’t record Of the Earth is because it didn’t fit their new punk vibe.
    I hope the record is more impressive then this review.

    • Benjamin

      The only punk type song on this album is Mind Your Manners. Don`t worry i`m pretty sure you`ll love this album!

  • Ben

    I’m really looking forward to hearing this album. Sounds like Jeff and Stone brought a bit of their solo album into the mix as well as Ed. Also sounds like Mike had more input. The album will be about 46 minutes long.

    I was hoping they would punk up or rock out Sleeping By Myself… make it angry sounding like Lukin…. but it sounds like they have done a ‘Speed of Sound’ treatment to it.

    A shame they did a fade out on Lightning Bolt. I’m guessing this song will generally be better live than in studio.

    All round I’m excited to hear the album soon and hope they don’t take so long to make the next!

  • Boom

    Boom caution every person to have the patience, don’t base your opionion on someone else’s words and thoughts. Buy the Bolt, listen for your own self. Let the music move you then form your own opinion.
    Make your own opinion and fuck everybody elses.

    Boom no trust nobody. Especially when they say something nice.

    • GwynnKatie

      The GwynnKatie believes this is the real Boom.

      Welcome back to The Boom.


  • sifting

    mind blown “cold confession” didn’t make it…that track is so great

  • Ben

    Cold Confession is great indeed. Not B-side or outtake material… then again Pearl Jam’s B-sides/outtakes are often gems! Sometimes I wonder whether they like holding the best stuff back!

    If they don’t plan on putting it on an album, deserves to be on a B-Sides & Rarities album. I wonder how many amazing tracks never reach our ears!?

  • Alf

    The music aside, It’s their worst album cover since their S/T…

  • bernardo


  • bernardo

    apparently the album was approved with beautiful songs, I am anxious to hear the new album from PJ!!!!! :D :)

  • scott

    Way too many slow songs! Brendan said 2 songs didn’t make it on the record. I’ll bet either would have been better then putting SBM on there.

  • Chrstine

    I want what Grungemaster is having.

  • Boris Dignan

    Dark and experimental is exactly what I want from Pearl Jam right now.
    Lately I’ve been loving the darker and more atmospheric stuff in their catalog. Stuff like:
    Sleight of Hand, Army Reserve, You Are, Strangest Tribe, Nothing as it Seems, and Rival.

    The punk shit was good between 1994-2000, but the guys in Pearl Jam are nearing their 50’s and getting too old to be taken seriously with that kind of music now.

    Not to mention, Eddie has struggled with the screaming on the last few tours and has lost of that edge. He’s much better suited these days to the lower register rather than the screamy punk stuff.

    Nice to hear that they were aiming a little higher on Lightning Bolt.

  • Clem Halibut

    Backspacer ranks at the very bottom of their catalog, so the farther they move from that…the better.
    By the sounds of it , lightning bolt is shaping up to be a bit more dynamic and that’ sure is a relief.
    Really looking forward to hearing some of the weirder stuff like My Father’s Son, Infallible, Pendulum, and Yellow Moon. Let the Records Play & Getaway sound like they could be pretty cool as well. Too bad Sirens is getting a flat response. That PJ guy was getting pretty worked up about that one. The 80’s power ballad description has me a bit worried. Oh well…Dark Moody records are great for the Fall season. Any time you can put a record on and have it match your mood, as well as the weather…it’s a good thinig.

  • Conrad Uno

    So all that hulabaloo about Coalminer’s F*cking was just a big ruse? I should have known it was all a bunch of bologna.

  • Chris Cornhole

    New album just leaked. Go get it!

    • Clem Halibut

      The only thing that is leaking is your pants




  • Thomas

    What’s with all the track listings people make up?

  • GwynnKatie

    I will buy the CD when it is released. The jewel case.
    If I like it — I keep it. If I wear it out, I will buy another.
    (Have owned four copies of Days of The New Yellow, five copies of AIC Jar Of Flies)

    If it sucks — well I’ll walk up the hill and trade it at Mr K’s Used Books.

    Don’t think that’s gonna happen though.

    I Love Pearl Jam

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  • elduce850

    More middle of the roadness from the first reviews. I think its safe to say the days of classic, just pure and creative music might be over. I hope for something similar to Inside Job or Of the Earth is one here. Two of the best modern era tracks. That might have been filled with Future Days, and I wasn’t impressed with it at Chicago.

    And really not enthused by a comparison to a song like Supersonic. One of the weakest songs in the catalog. Its only one song but I wasn’t thrilled with any of the other live tracks. Might Your Manners has energy and anger but its just lazy. Even lazier than Worldwide Suicide from S/T.

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  • hem

    First 5 songs felt like complete mess. Track 3 – My Father’s Son is what they definitely need to do more of.
    Pendulum, they’ve calmed down now slow No Code like sound meets Three Fish or Chris Issak Wicked Game. Sorry it sounds just like this but an improvement over the first 5 songs.

    Swallowed Whole seems to be going for an REM sound from the Fables era or clean guitars like Other Side but more much uptempo and one of my early favorites alongside My Father’s Son.

    The country/swing thing on Let the Records Play, no please just no.

    Instead of Sleeping By Myself, Setting Forth might have been a better pick for the album for a reworking. Just so much more energy and live it kills everything.

    Yellow Moon sounds promising and might have been a better album closer than Future Days. Definitely one of the better songs but just way too short. In the end I think the new Alice is even better than this album. I’m not saying its disappointment, some ways better than Backspacer but it ranks even behind Self-Titled/Avocado for me right now and not even in the Top 5 of the classic era.