After almost four years, Pearl Jam made their return to mainstream radio last Thursday with the release of “Mind Your Manners;” the first single off of their forthcoming album Lightning Bolt, due out October 15th.
Never shy about their influences, “Mind Your Manners” is at once both distinctly Pearl Jam and a confluence of alt-punk royalty impressions, borrowing equal parts from the Ramones, Social Distortion, and X. Rooted in the band’s past, “Manners” is “neo-Pearl Jam,” built on a stylistic evolution propelled by the band’s contemporary interpretations of post-punk, jet-fueled sounds.
Opening at a frenetic pace amongst traded staccato guitar riffs, “Manners” evokes 1994’s “Spin the Black Circle” while building off the band’s recent affinity for a more upbeat sound. Eddie Vedder powers through tightly woven verses with unexpected clarity, both indicting and reconciling faith and belief in turn. And though unable to demonstrate the finer elements of his love-it-or-hate-it voice at this speed, he retains his distinctive emotional timbre, ably transitioning from verse and bridge to a rising chorus. Drummer Matt Cameron continues making his case as one of the most subtle powerhouses you’ll find behind a kit today, and original members Stone Gossard and Mike McCready layer edgy guitar parts throughout; the only vestiges of 90’s alt-rock bona fides you’ll find here.
For fans and casual listeners alike, the band’s last album—2009’s Backspacer—must have come as something of a surprise. From driving punk numbers such as “Supersonic” to the hard-to-peg-yet-and-dare-I-
While “Manners” newfangled sound is sure to draw its fair share of criticism, it is decidedly more “Pearl Jam” than most recent offerings. “Manners” marks a return to Vs.-era songwriting, while taking yet another step in yet another direction for these post-grunge grungers. But in spite of the questions it will raise in the minds of listeners, “Manners” is a surefire announcement of Pearl Jam’s intention to continue pushing their own creative boundaries far beyond those anyone else might care to impose.