The Mainstream: Pearl Jam new single

Pearl Jam “Mind Your Manners”

Optimized-pearl-jam-lightning-boltFor the first time in four years a new Pearl Jam album is finally coming out. Lightning Bolt is expected on October 15th of this year, but the first single has already been released. Is “Mind Your Manners” everything that we long suffering Pearl Jam fans have been waiting for? The short answer is both yes and no.

First off, “Mind Your Manners” is more or less a straight up punk rock song with big ole’ Mike McCready sounding solo dropped into the middle of it. This time though (for a short and fast PJ song) McCready’s solo is not the type of brilliant and off the cuff solo that he masterfully dropped into “Go” on Vs. Sonically, it’s in the same vein, but not nearly as hard rock sounding. In fact “Mind Your Manners,” while many fans are suggesting that it sounds like “early Pearl Jam,” really doesn’t sound like early Pearl Jam at all aside from the always welcome, and always brilliantly live sounding, Brenden O’Brien production. I honestly don’t think that we will ever get another burst of the pure hard rock energy that was Vs from Pearl Jam. I also don’t think that we’re ever going to get thoughtful masterpieces like No Code or Yield either. If all we’re stuck with from Pearl Jam at this point is “Mind Your Manners” though, we we could be doing a hell of a lot worse.

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Clocking in at a very short and compact 2 minutes and 40 seconds (there are many Green Day songs longer than this), “Mind Your Manners” recaptures some of the skate-punk energy that tracks like “Spin the Black Circle” (from Vitalogy) simply oozed. Eddie Vedder has often pushed Pearl Jam further and further into punk territory, but managed to hold onto his Emersonian love of nature and social causes (lyrically) as well as his healthy affinity for Zeppelin and The Who-like classic rock. Also, contributions from the rest of the band (Ament wrote some of PJ’s classic songs like “Nothingman.”  Gossard wrote 90% of Ten) always balanced out nearly every Pearl Jam album stylistically. This allowed them to jump from punk infused rock, to hard rock, to stoner rock all on the same album to great effect. This really made for some great albums (i.e. the aforementioned Vs, No Code, and Yield). I can only hope that some Lighting Bolt manages to incorporate what made the best Pearl Jam albums such great listens. I don’t think that I could handle an entire album of 3 minute long punk ditties like “Mind Your Manners” from Vedder and the boys, as fun as songs like that can be.

Nevertheless, rarely does a band like Pearl Jam make musical missteps. Even Riot Act had its moments of brilliance. Hopefully Lighting Bolt will have just as many, if not more. “Mind Your Manners,” for a band at this point in their career and popularity though is a little bit too much of a safe first single in my honest opinion. But like I said earlier, hopefully the days of great and sonically diverse Pearl Jam albums aren’t a thing of the past…like the band’s ability to release a truly brilliant and alternative sounding first single like “Who You Are” is.



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