Most helpful critical review
on 23 June 2014
You'd have to go back a fair while...
...to 2010 to recall Jimmy Eat World's last album, the slow burning grower Invented (4/5). Back then then they had just come off the fresh and poppy tour of Chase This Light which saw the band go down a more catchy and tuneful, soft-pop-rock route. With 'Invented' being a bit more down to earth, opting for a more real outlook and mixed emotion, past albums ranging from arthouse classics, college punk partying and insidiously emotional trauma, this time around would prove difficult to show how they can keep ticking on...
The 10 track album kicks off with 'Appreciation' - a jolly hook laden, 3 minute sing along. It's all about that guitar rocking back and fourth through the chords until the chorus slows it down to a steady rocking ballad "We build, we box, we carry on.. as people we forgot. Strange we come to find ourselves, not knowing we're lost." cue laid back but gritty guitar interlude. It's an idyllic start to the album with the lyrics being relevant to the bands situation. The Albums title track 'Damage' is even more sugary sweet due to it's xylophone like guitar track through the chorus. 'Are we only damaging, the little we have left?' vocalist & guitarist Jim Adkins' swoons. It's definite proof that the band has calmed down a tad - losing that rebellious nature perhaps (not that they had much of that to begin with) - still a pleasant listen though.
This one starts in a vaguely same fashion as the first track, that jarring guitar twangling back and fourth. That is, until a classy guitar squeals away in the background, enhancing the cleaner melodies. "I’m not asking for a fix, I just need you close to reach. When I can’t stop myself at all, when I can’t lean on you I fall" are some more part-gushy but heartfelt and honest lyrics. 'Book of Love' sounds right out of a late 90's teenage drama film. Some chirpy acoustic similar to 'Kiss Me' by Sixpence None The Richer means I'm not exactly fond of this song. Diary-esque lyrics and popping bass, a dodgey interlude full of vocal noise is an attempt to sound like anything from Clarity - that ultimately fails, making this one dull, uninspired number.
I Will Steal You Back
Is one of the songs released before the album, that gave me hope for a solid Jimmy record. Somehow, it's classic J.E.W, yet nothing like anything else they've written. "Funny how the smallest lie might live a million times" ponders Adkins before being cut off by a badass guitar solo. "How slowly we built the walls, in years they pile on - I will steal you back" - another decent one in similar vein to the title track. The longest song at just under 5 minutes is 'Please Say No' - a breathy, dreary snooze. The words are rife with repetition and not for catchiness but rather sheer lazy song writing - "Please Say No", "I Go I Go" & "With You" all being muttered various times with less and less conviction, Boring!
How'd You Have Me
I desperately needed this track after the previous bit of rubbish. I properly like this one and say it's worth recommending - as it's the best on this album. A haggard and raw introduction of background talking and drum click track, awesome shaking hi-hat and a stomping chorus that demands you dance. "Only one thing left I wish I knew. How did you have me, and I only got you?" always brings a smile to my face, as does the second part "If it's all bad timing, and there's no control. You'll do anything, you'll do everything I want from now on". Unfortunately it's back to mediocre filler with 'No, never'. More repetition and standard muted verses, lacking a clear melody make it rather unmemorable. Best of the worst really.
Whether it's a reference to The Cars song or that 90's film, is irrelevant - this is what Jimmy Eat World sound like. It's as if they've stepped into a time machine, headed to 1999 and wrote down just one more song. Slow and swaying, 'Byebyelove' reeks of feeling and is perhaps a genuine goodbye to the fans or the old sound they hold so dear. The chorus merely consists of the title and the 2 verses offer a little insight to something personal "I wanna feel that golden light, watch summer dancing through your hair. There's so much I wish I could hold, Instead of carrying memories". It has some classy J.E.W vocal work, but unlike 'Book of Love' doesn't seem eager to convince you. It's real simple and slow, but it grows on you.. Unlike The closing track 'You Were Good'. Ever since 99', this band has made a point of ending their CD's with real belters, serious ballads that take your breath away. Clarity had 'Goodbye Sky Harbor', Bleed American had 'My Sundown', Futures had '23' and Chase This Light had 'Dizzy'. Maybe Invented ended that tradition with a wishy-washy-walk-away-now 'Mixtape'. Still, that's no excuse to forego bass & percussion entirely and use vocals that sound like they were recorded on a TalkBoy.
It's right at the good end of 3 stars.
There are some really top drawer songs on here, kind of spoiled by others as they remind you that this album is far from perfect, let alone the band at their best. Reasons could range from a switch in record label (or more likely the use of one), It being a tricky 8th album where anyone lesser would've ran out of inspiration, or just maybe they've grown up to a point where they can no longer solely focus on music? Who knows, but I'd still like to hear just one more, an album worthy of being the (milky) twilight of one of the most original band's I've ever known.