Thursday, September 19, 2013


Sirens is the second single from the upcoming Lightning Bolt [link]. It is one of the most beautiful songs Pearl Jam has ever done. It's no Black though, and it's too early to tell where it stands among the band's other slow songs. It's very catchy by their standards, and it's something the wider, mainstream audience can latch on to. On first listen, the term, 'cheesy 80s rock ballad' did cross my mind, and I can understand why many fans may dislike it. But Eddie's vocals are so incredibly strong and sincere that he lifts the song way above 'cheesy 80s rock ballad' territory; unfortunately the thing that risks it almost sounding like one is Mike McCready's guitar solo. With all due respect, he's possibly the best guitarist of his generation, but his solo here is particularly weak. Sirens is certainly a very un-Pearl Jam song, but in a good way. It's got the conventions of a traditional ballad, but yet it's different. It's a love song, not your usual run-of-the-mill one, but expertly written, and it's something we have come to expect from a man approaching fifty years old. Boom's keyboards and McCready's twelve-string acoustic strumming make it all very pretty. I like the little pre-chorus section before the melody just builds up higher without ever going over the top. The chorus, with its simple yet hard-hittingly emotional chord progression, is downright great, and it's got a bit of modern country undertones (strangely it reminds me of Dixie Chicks). The ending is where it all comes together. Simple, beautiful harmonies. I was on the verge of tears on my second listen. It'll be interesting to see how Sirens works in relation to the narrative of the new album.

Hear the sirens
Hear the circus, so profound
I hear the sirens
more and more in this here town

Let me catch my breath to breathe
and reach across the bed
Just to know we’re safe
I am a grateful man
This life has been a light
and I can see clear
how to take your hand, and feel your breath
or feel this someday will be over
I hold you close, so much to lose
knowing that nothing lasts forever
I didn’t care before you were here
I danced with laughter
with the ever-after
But all things change. Let this remain

Hear the sirens covering distance in the night
The sound echoing closer, will they come for me next time?
Oh every choice, mistake I’ve made, it’s not my plan
to send you in the arms of another man
And if you choose to stay, I’ll wait, I’ll understand

It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead
If I think too much, I can’t get over
Wound by the grace by which we live
our lives with death over our shoulders
Want you to know that should I go
I always loved you, held you high above too
I study your face, and the fear goes away
The fear goes away
The fear goes away
The fear goes away