|my first attempt at a review, haha|
A catchy chorus, guest appearances, sex appeal, the list goes on and on. The popular music industry has an unwritten book of rules; a format in order to get a hit single. Constantly changing, the mainstream music goes through fad after fad, creating “one hit wonders.” Bands that refuse to succumb to this “format” are virtually less successful, resulting in less popularity; hints the absence of punk, metal, indie, and hardcore in the mainstream.
In 2001, Jimmy Eat World released their third studio album, Bleed American. Unfortunately, the two singles “The Middle” and “Sweetness” overshadowed an album full of innovative early 2000’s pop-punk. The purpose of this review is to bridge the gap between those who know Jimmy Eat World only by their two hits and those who know them by their timeless discography.
In the midst of the pop-punk outbreak of the new millennium, Jimmy Eat World accompanied Blink-182, Sum 41, and New Found Glory to the mainstream audience. However, there was a side of Jimmy Eat World that when undetected by the mainstream; the emotional genre, A.K.A. “emo.” Nowadays “emo” is perceived as Fall Out Boy, tight pants, Hawthorne Heights, and eyeliner; this is all wrong. The emotional genre has been around for decades, derived of the hardcore genre, but gained popularity in the 90’s to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, The Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate, and later Dashboard Confessional. These bands broke the barrier between happy rock music and dared to sing about the bleaker side of life, while still remaining up-tempo with their music.
Three years since 1998’s critically acclaimed Clarity, Jimmy Eat World returned with Bleed American. At first listen, a more mature band is apparent, showing immense development in vocals, lyrics, and musically. Vocalist Jim Adkins parted from his simplistic lyrics and ventured into meaningful themes as messy break-ups, failure, and death. Musically, Jimmy Eat World changed into a heavier sound, accompanied by Adkins progressed, deeper sound.
“Salt Sweat Sugar” starts off with a weighty, faster guitar riff, taking a fan of Clarity by surprise. The lyrics “I’m not alone ‘cause the TV’s on yeah/ I’m not crazy ‘cause I take the right pills everyday” is basically the overall theme on Bleed American.
No Need for an introduction, “The Middle” is one of the most iconic songs of the early 2000’s, skyrocketing Jimmy Eat World’s popularity. Opening with a series of catchy, finger-tapping notes, the song flows into Adkins’ less aggressive vocals, met with a louder bass guitar, accompanied by the classic Jimmy Eat World backing vocals. The guitar solo is the climax of the song, making it one of the most defining and original of this era.
“Hear You Me” is the ballad of the CD, undoubtedly containing the acoustic guitar, slow drums, and larger-than-life vocals, overall contributing to the depressing element of the song. Adkins laments about the early death of a friend and the anguish and sadness he feels. Reminding us that every moment of life is precious are the lyrics “I never said thank you for that/now I’ll never have a chance/may angels lead you in.”
“Get it Faster” queued in by a minute of ambient noises, all backed by a slow and steady guitar. Out of nowhere, a blast of guitars and drums are accompanied by an angry, scream-like “I don’t care what you do/ I’m getting out.” Another essential Jimmy Eat World element is the dual layered guitars, which are done quite well in “Get it Faster.”
“Cautioners” is along the same lines of “Hear You Me”, a slower tempo where Adkins can unleash his emotions. An acoustic guitar is the perfect way of conveying a message straight from the heart, such as “You’ll take away your steps with hesitance/ maybe that’s a big mistake/ you know I’m thinking of you.” As seen on Clarity, the song closes with a minute of a building, repeating chorus, putting the listener into a trance.
One of the finally tracks of Bleed American ends on a good, happy note with “The Authority Song.” Hand claps, hard-striking chords, and woah’s can barely keep the listener still, the urge to tap your fingers, move your feet, or even dance is too great.
Normally I would close the review with a joke about the band, how good or bad it is, or future thoughts. All I can say is buy it! You won’t regret it, I have had this CD for seven years and it hasn’t lost its lust. I’m writing this review almost eight years post-release, so I can fill you in with Jimmy Eat World’s latest efforts. 2004’s Futures builds on the classic pop-punk foundation, and is worth a second-time around listen.