I was incredibly pleased with the band’s previous effort, 2009’s superb Backspacer album, and was slightly concerned initially that the band would perhaps not be able to follow up such a strong effort this late in their career. I needn’t have worried because Lightning Blot continues the trend of really inspired material and bright performances. While not just as upbeat and summery as its predecessor, it is equally well-written and enjoyable.
The album follows a nice journey, that begins a bit jangly, takes off into a solid rock flavor and ends in balladry. There’s a bit of variety, and you can here touches of different Pearl Jam eras from No Code-esque stuff to Riot Act style material, but it all fits together well.
The songs are fairly concise, and not overlong, mirroring the record itself… there isn’t much extra filler or any weird experimental outros. Its just half a record of the band rocking out and having good fun, and half thoughtful songwriters crafting meaningful pieces, a rather nice balance of the band’s two main directions anyway. Speedy, aggressive moments like “My Father’s Son” balance out contemplative, haunting moments like “Pendulum.”
Highlights include the sad yet jaunty ballad “Sleeping By Myself,” the powerful garage rock number “Let The Records Play,” the catchy single “Mind Your Manners” and the excellent Title Track.
Overall; Lightning Bolt is a strong and entertaining album, and I wouldn’t find it too unreasonable to claim that it was rated firmly in the top-half of their discography.