Pearl Jam, ‘Lightning Bolt’
There comes a point in a band’s career — say, 22 years after its mega-selling debut — when the metric by which a new album’s success or failure is measured isn’t the quality of the material, exactly, so much as the degree to which that band can stave off its own exhaustion. On album number 10, Pearl Jam has plenty of spark left, opening with the determined “Getaway” and the punkish fire of “Mind Your Manners” before the smart change of pace of the anthemic “Sirens.” A few songs recall the dense eclecticism of “Vitalogy,” while others echo the Who’s solidity of purpose; with its stringy guitar lines, back-and-forth tension-driving riff, and a terrific, song-catapulting solo, “Swallowed Whole” (a modern gloss on “Pure and Easy”) touches a lot of wires together and crackles. “Lightning Bolt” occasionally stumbles, as on the maudlin overreach of “Future Days” and the “Hey, Soul Sister”/“Goodbye Stranger” hybrid “Sleeping by Myself.” But Pearl Jam’s not just still alive, it’s kicking. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Swallowed Whole”
Pearl Jam plays the DCU Center in Worcester on Oct. 15 and 16.