“It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead…” Pearl Jam – Sirens

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Having heard the new Pearl Jam single “Sirens” last night, it’s been on repeat ever since. I fell asleep listening to it and woke up this morning and pressed play once more — finding myself in a constant loop.

I don’t recall being this overwhelmed by a song in a long, long time and that (for me) is the strange thing about this piece of music…

On first listen, I thought “great”. A well crafted song with good dynamics, well performed (as always). Usually, I can listen and just know I’m going to fall in love with a song. Sirens though,  took me by surprise, because all the talk pre-release was about how (in the words of Brendan O’Brien) this song was “one of the best they’ve ever written”.

Big words indeed and surely too bold a claim to leave at the door of a band into their 23rd year of existence?

Wrong.

Sirens is everything you’d hope it would be and more.

The song starts out innocently enough, with Mike McCready strumming a 12 string acoustic whilst Matt Cameron interjects with some (almost) November Rain type drum-fills, but it’s Stone Gossard‘s guitar weaving between the space created that hints at what is to come.

The verses are executed perfectly by Eddie Vedder, who sounds as good today as he’s always done — weaving a lyrical tapestry in a way only he can, setting up the story and giving just enough information to reel you in, but with enough ambiguity to make you question exactly what the song is about.

The chorus is big, but not overtly bombastic — keep just enough restraint to avoid the territory of Nickleback and the like, who wouldn’t know subtlety if you shaved the word into Chad Kroeger‘s shit beard.

In fact, it’s not until 4 minutes 45 seconds into an almost 6 minute song that the true crescendo is unleashed.

That final 1 minute 15 seconds is amongst (or possibly even) the greatest that Pearl Jam have committed to tape in my opinion. It only works in such a way, because of the deftness of hand they displayed up to that point.

As someone once said to me, “the true sign of genius is the one who can use his best ideas sparingly” and it feels almost as if 3/4 of the song was a teaser for the final reveal.

I was excited for Lightning Bolt before I’d heard anything, mainly because it seemed like the band were going to give it a real push — which to me suggested they had something they were very proud of.

If this song is anything to go by, then we’re all in for an album that stands proudly next to their greatest work previous.

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 shoulder
Want you to know that should I go
I always loved you, held you high above too
I study your face, the fear goes away

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

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