Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Dec 18, 2013
    60
    Lightning Bolt is only more competent than Foo Fighters, Vedder and Co.'s rival for the planet's straightest rock band. [No. 105, p.57]
  2. Oct 24, 2013
    60
    Mike McCready’s guitar solos mostly take a backseat to the band’s meaty rhythm section, and, sure, some of the 12 tracks are victims of awkward construction. But Lightning Bolt resonates, especially the band’s jarring (if kind of clichéd) conclusions.
  3. 60
    For the most part it’s a good record. The first two thirds are much stronger than that last third.... On its own merit, it’s a solid three stars.... The first couple of tracks had me firmly in its corner, but then the album took a complete nosedive on the back half. [Three reviewers in one]
  4. Oct 14, 2013
    60
    Not classic Pearl Jam by any stretch - let’s not get carried away here--but enough to kindle at least a little optimism for whatever comes next.
  5. Oct 14, 2013
    60
    Years removed from the raw emotion and desperate appetites of youth, Pearl Jam has slipped into alt-rock elder statesmanship as one would a comfortable old sweater. And as Lightning Bolt mostly attests, it's a decent look for them.
  6. Oct 14, 2013
    60
    It's far from an implosion, far from spectacular.
  7. Oct 14, 2013
    60
    Pearl Jam's 10th album might offer little in the way of surprises.
  8. 60
    An intriguing mix overall and further proof that Pearl Jam play by their own rules--a fact that real fans would never want to change.
  9. Oct 10, 2013
    60
    A few ponderous moments aside, this is a sturdy return to great form.
  10. Oct 15, 2013
    50
    Lightning Bolt begins with a spirited sprint before sputtering out and winding up in dullsville.
  11. Dec 19, 2013
    40
    The problem is that Pearl Jam at this point is just repeating itself--or others.
  12. Oct 15, 2013
    40
    Essentially, the cruise control is running onward with disregard for all the maintenance and repairs that an engine needs, and the result is the worst album of their career.
  13. 40
    There’s something very ‘mopey American teenager’ about Lightning Bolt.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26
  1. Oct 15, 2013
    10
    This is everything a PJ fan could hope for. It is the perfect combination of harder rocking songs (Getaway, MYM, My Father's Son), mid tempoThis is everything a PJ fan could hope for. It is the perfect combination of harder rocking songs (Getaway, MYM, My Father's Son), mid tempo rockers (LB, Swallowed Whole), some extremely successful experiments for the band (Infallible, Pendulum, SBM) and beautiful ballads (Sirens, YM). They also make a foray into blues territory with LTRP which is entirely sucsessful at being the 'fun' song on the album. FD is probably the only below par song and even then, it's not a clunker. All in all, excellent album with at least 5 entries which stand up to their best output (Getaway, MFS, Infallible, Pendulum, Yellow Moon). Full Review »
  2. Oct 15, 2013
    8
    Pearl Jam is certainly an anomaly in the jungle of the music industry. They emerged as the forerunners in a movement where most seeminglyPearl Jam is certainly an anomaly in the jungle of the music industry. They emerged as the forerunners in a movement where most seemingly weren’t destined for old bones and yet Pearl Jam has now endured for over 20 years. They’ve followed their own muse and called their own shots and still maintain a massive commercial appeal. They were initially lumped in with the genre of “grunge” mainly for their ethos, apparel, and geographic location. But while messianic figures of the trade like Kurt Cobain practiced what they preached in a somewhat self-sabotaging even self-eviscerating fashion, Pearl Jam were and still are at their core firmly entrenched in the heart of Classic Rock tradition. Their canon has emulated numerous Rock & Roll luminaries such as R.E.M., The Who, Bruce Springsteen, MC5, Led Zeppelin, and Neil Young (To whom this endeavor is dedicated to in the liner notes affectionately, “Dedicated to Uncle Neil.”) to name a few. It should come as no revelation then that sequenced with its various peaks and valleys, Pearl Jam’s 10th studio album Lightning Bolt unfurls like a Classic Rock record.

    Lightning Bolt explodes like a powder-keg with the one-two punch opening of “Getaway” and “Mind Your Manners” as the former strides in with a bold and brash Stones-y swagger and front man Eddie Vedder spits fire from his pulpit, “Everyone’s a critic looking back up the river/ Every boat is leaking in this town/ Everybody’s thinking that they’ll all be delivered/ Sitting in a box like lost and found.” The latter is leaner with buzz saw urgency paying homage to the visceral D.I.Y. spirit of the early Punk pioneers as guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard play like dogs off a leash. The wormhole of “My Father’s Son” battles with demons (Now father you’re dead and gone/ And I’m finally free to be me/ Thanks for all your gifts/ For which I got no sympathy) before shifting to the break-of-dawn ballad “Sirens” acting as a soothing glow coating and calming the agitation and fury that had erupted from the first the three rockers. The title track is as monumental and continental-shifting as any piece of music they’ve put on record. The unbounded frontier sonics and “Given to Fly” fervor is galvanizing with Vedder sermonizing on the shoreline, “She comes on like stone/ But you don’t know where from she was thrown/ Like a burning meteor from miles high.” “Infallible” is a jarring cold sweat and “Pendulum” sounds like a drowning man’s final meditation, time passes and the sinking continues until life and light are barely a flicker. “Swallowed Whole” is a global trek with no limits or boundaries and “Let The Records Play” is a gritty guitar romp. An unabashed celebration exploring the medicinal and divine power of Rock & Roll, “When kingdom comes/ He puts his records on/ And with his blistered thumb hits play.” “Sleeping By Myself” is reworked from Vedder’s 2011 album Ukulele Songs augmented by a full band arrangement while Vedder’s ukulele still adds an aesthetic charm. “Future Days” closes as a sterling hymn as haunting as it is alluring. It’s a survivor’s psalm, free of guilt with its luminous prophecy faithfully believing in the journey ahead. This may be the most fragile Pearl Jam has ever sounded but sincerity prevails and it’s the perfect curtain call for a band coming to terms with its legacy as well as gauging its destiny.

    Lightning Bolt finds Pearl Jam perhaps surprisingly sailing gracefully into middle age embracing a roll as elderly statesmen in an increasingly uncertain industry, a conscience and moral compass of sorts. They’ve fallen in and out of favor with certain groups of fans and critics alike but the band continues to soldier on, indifferent of how they’re perceived in certain circles and confident in their virtues. This is a fusion of their raging youthful past with a genuine tenderness and wink of the eye that could only come from decades of experience and craftsmanship. Sure it may be considered “Dad Rock” by some, but what a righteous and mature statement this record is.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 15, 2013
    1
    Once a great rock band, Pearl Jam has settled into a pattern of retreaded guitar riffs, middling songwriting and FM soft rock theatrics.Once a great rock band, Pearl Jam has settled into a pattern of retreaded guitar riffs, middling songwriting and FM soft rock theatrics. There's really no reason to revisit this album; it's simply an expression of a band merely existing to pay the bills and to relive the glory days. But we'll always have the live shows and "Vitalogy." Full Review »