Lightning Bolt - Pearl Jam
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 78 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 78
  2. Negative: 4 out of 78

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  1. Oct 15, 2013
    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 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). Expand
  2. Oct 15, 2013
    RS is kidding right!!!!!!!! hell on earth, does Pearl Jam is equal to Miley Cyrus now with score 3.5???????????? how that pearl jam is one of the greatest bands ever and all their albums are great I've never disappointed with any of their records and Lightning Bolt confirms PJ legacy.
  3. Oct 22, 2013
    Extremely well balanced album and IMO a little better than Backspacer, which was more in-your-face but less balanced. This is a very good group effort i.e. all band members participating in a significant way. For the folks who are still longing to the Pearl Jam of the first 3-5 records, get to know the "grown up" Pearl Jam. Give it time and you'll learn to love it.
  4. Oct 15, 2013

    I love Pearl Jam. I have since they first hit the scene, and I've been lucky enough to see them live seven times over the past twenty years. I'm way too biased to even pretend I can give you an objective view, but I can offer up the following observations of "Lightning Bolt":

    • The music on this album covers more range than I think I've ever heard from them. From
    their grungy roots to their emotional ballads to their experiments with jangly blues, new wave and psychedelia, everything is here.

    • At the same time, there is a cohesiveness to this album that I can't really recall on any Pearl Jam album since No Code. Whenever I start listening, I feel compelled to listen to the whole thing. That did not happen with Backspacer or the Avocado album. I think part of it is lyric-based. Everything on this album seems thematically connected, as there is an ever-present tension between inner emptiness and soul satisfaction. There is no Johnny Guitar or George Bush monologue to contend with. The stories that are told are more first-person and feel less contrived.

    • Ed is unafraid to let you into his heart, and that is a double-edged sword. If you buy into it and take his lyrics seriously, you will be richly rewarded. The band clearly is "all in" on Ed's style of songwriting at this point, and helps ensure that lyrics like the following, from "Sirens," pack the necessary emotional punch:

    "It's a fragile thing This life we lead If I think too much I can get over- whelmed by the grace By which we live our lives With death over our shoulders"

    If you aren't looking for your heart strings to be pulled, and you have had a problem with Ed's soft side in the past, then that issue will likely come up again for you in spades with this album. On the other hand, you'll probably still dig the way he wails on songs like "Infallible" and "Swallowed Whole," and "Mind Your Manners" and "Let the Records Play" will probably appeal to the pit mosher and barn stomper in you.

    • There is a "somber hopeful" paradox that absolutely enthralls me. It goes hand in hand with what seems to be a new emphasis on setting the mood. After front-loading the album with three pretty straightforward songs of angst, Pearl Jam really starts revealing that mood at the song "Sirens", which combines the dark imagery of ambulance sirens with transcendent lyrics of love. The music finds a way to echo this, which to me is somewhat of a revelation on this record. The new concert opener, "Pendulum" is also dark and beautiful. "Swallowed Whole" is an anthemic uplifting tune that has an unexpected, navel-gazing Pink Floyd keyboard drop in the middle. "Yellow Moon" has the kind of splintering tension that harkens back to "Release". And while I originally thought "Future Days" was overly sappy, the dark church organ that booms during the "I believe" lyric keeps the tension tight in that song as well.

    All in all, I think this is one of Pearl Jam's finest works, exploring new ground while deftly weaving together the skills the band has acquired over the years. All the songs feel fresh and beg to be played live, and in my opinion, there isn't any "filler", which cannot be said about every album by this band. Bravo!
  5. Oct 19, 2013
    After thinking Backspacer was their least enjoyable album (still very good though) I am very happy to place Lightning Bolt as Pearl Jams best since Yield in 1998. Best opener since Brain of J with Getaway. Mind your Manners and My Fathers Son As with a lot of their records the first songs hit you with such power and intensity that you need a typical PJ ballad and Sirens is it. On the very first listen it did not impress but soon enough it got under my skin. Title track is wonderful but its the next three tracks that are just amazing, Infallible, Pendulum and Swallowed Whole. Perhaps the most interesting trio in a row on any PJ record. Let the Music Play is the only one I am struggling with. Yellow Moon is pure Pearl Jam slow burning classic and Future Days is fine. The inclusion of Sleeping by Myself was strange, initially I thought it out of place but now, well it has fallen into place. So overall its a A-, a 9/10. Pearl Jam continue to be the greatest band of their generation. Expand
  6. Oct 16, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. 9 out of ten, maybe a touch below that but very close.
    Lightning Bolt is one of Pearl Jam's better albums overall. I was hoping for a strong showing (as I always am being a lifelong fan) and that's what I found. Admittedly I was not overly impressed with the first 2 tracks as they felt as though a throwback attempt to the glory days of Ten and VS. The rest of the album is excellent and easily up there with some of their best later work, Yield, Pearl Jam and Backspacer. Lightning Bolt and Swallowed Whole are a couple of crazy strong rocker tracks. Eddie Vedder's voice is commandingly strong throughout the entire album. Stone Gossard and Mike McCready and Jeff Ament still can bring on the sonic heavy stuff.
  7. Oct 15, 2013
    Their best album since Binaural. Sirens is gorgeous. MYM rocks!!. Pendulum is haunted. Infallible pure genius. Yellow Moon really shine in dark. LB continues PJ legacy. Keep going guys!!. Spin/RS review is a joke!!!
  8. Oct 17, 2013
    Best album since a long time. Sirens, Infallible, Lightning Bolt, Pendulum, MYM above all are real gems bearing the classic PJ intensity but also new sounds and feelings. It might be the most exciting album since No Code
  9. Oct 15, 2013
    This album will go greatly under-appreciated of course, as is the case with most of PJ's very solid catalog. But there's no doubt about it, this is probably the best PJ I've heard since Binaural, and maybe even Yield.
  10. Oct 24, 2013
    I would say for any true Pearl Jam fan Lightning bolt is a true expression of the bands continuous development... the guys in the band are no longer in their 20's they are all approaching the Big Five O.. is very obvious to me the PJs still has a lot more to give to their fans and I for one I'm blessed to have had the chance to see them live on several different occasions... keep up the good work guys much appreciated! Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Dec 19, 2013
    The problem is that Pearl Jam at this point is just repeating itself--or others.
  2. Dec 18, 2013
    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]
  3. Dec 4, 2013
    Lightning Bolt finds Pearl Jam sounding more comfortable in its collective skin and with its collective influences than perhaps even before. [Nov-Dec 2013, p.92]