Jimmy Eat World – Damage
Record Label: RCA
Release Date: June 11 2013
If you listen to a lot of music, chances are you’ve listened to bands that you liked, but never really could get into. By that, I mean, you never really loved them. You like their records, or some songs, but you can’t get into them, no matter what you do. For me, that band is Jimmy Eat World. I love pop-punk, and I love the bands who mix pop-punk and indie-rock together, JEW being one of them. For whatever reason, however, I could never get into them. It’s not that they bored me, or they don’t do anything for me, it’s just that they never have connected with me in a way that other bands have, so when I heard that eighth record Damage was slated to come out, I was rather interested. Earlier this year, I picked up a copy of Bleed American (or known as the self-titled album), and really enjoyed that. Despite really enjoying it, I didn’t quite connect with it. The same can be said for the other two JEW records I have in my collection: 2004’s Futures and 2010’s Invented. I like those records, but I don’t love them, either. I decided to pick up a copy of Damage to see if it would spark that love I feel like I should have for this band. Well, needless to say, I’m not terribly surprised to say that it doesn’t. To put it simply, this record is a typical Jimmy Eat World record, and nothing more. Is that a good thing? Of course, because if you love this band, you’ll enjoy this record. But if you either don’t like them, or could never get into them (despite liking them), this record won’t sway you. Since this is the band’s eighth record, there’s not really much they need to improve on, because they have a sound that’s unique all to them. Maybe that’s why this record doesn’t do much for me. Well, I take that back, it’s enjoyable, but compared to their other releases, it just falls to the wayside, because there’s nothing that separates it from the rest of them. Of course, there are some wonderful tracks on here, and they do fit nicely within the rest of their discography, but as someone who’s never quite gotten into this band, it doesn’t really make me love them any more than I already did. There are great songs to add to the band’s catalog, but this record just doesn’t really do it for me.
The record starts off with “Appreciation,” and this song is a “classic” Jimmy Eat World song. Not in the sense that it will go down being a fan favorite, but just that it has their signature sound. It’s a good song for what it is, which is a pop-punk meets indie sound, and that’s really what the whole record entails, but it still manages to keep things fresh throughout the 37 minutes this record plays. The second track is the title track, and it’s another very fun and catchy song, but with meaningful and relatable lyrics. Frontman Jim Atkins has said that this record is a “breakup” record, and as the record goes on, you can really hear it within its lyrics. That’s ultimately where the record succeeds. Not only with its sound, because while it doesn’t do much for me, it’s still unique and enjoyable. There’s certainly an appeal for it, so I can’t fault the band for that. The lyrics seem to tell a story throughout. It begins nicely with “Appreciation,” but things ultimately go sour by the last two tracks, “Byebyelove” and “You Were Good.” These seem to hint at the conclusion, where the significant other is gone, and the person is reflecting on that person, saying despite the relationship ending, they were good and it was good while it lasted. But the rest of the record kind of tells that “story” in bits and pieces, with each song seeming to represent a part in the entire story, leading up to the relationship’s demise. As standalone tracks, though, these songs are quite solid. A couple of my favorites come in the form of one-two punch of fourth and fifth tracks “Book of Love” and “I Will Steal You Back.” These tracks are kind of polarizing, because the former is a nice catchy tune about a “guidebook” to love, and the latter is about stealing that person back, so to speak. That song marks the halfway point of the record, so this song seems to represent the point where the relationship took a downturn. Following that, sixth track “Please Say No” reminds me of a song like “Night Drive,” which was a slow, ballad-esque track. This is another highlight of the record, because it’s a very memorable track. Another one of those tracks does appear later on, which is a track I mentioned briefly earlier, ninth track “Byebyelove.” This is another slower song, and it’s also the second longest song on the record, along with “Please Say No.” These two songs are wonderful. Jimmy Eat World knows how to write a great ballad, or slower song, basically. These two songs are great, and in fact, the record is great. It may not be a record that I absolutely love, but this band hasn’t had to change their sound much in quite some time, because it works. It works well for them, so why fix what isn’t broken?