on 26 July 2011
Having only recently started listening to Jimmy Eat World, it doesn't change the fact they have quickly become one of my very favourite bands!
"Clarity" was my first Jimmy album, and despite initially leaving me cold, it slowly transformed into one of those rare albums that stop you right in your tracks, dumbfounded, leaving you not only speechless, but certain that music will never, ever sound the same to you again...
But that was "Clarity". After that album, I decided to take a bold risk, and splash my cash all over their back catalogue, from the raw, passionate "Static Prevails" to the magnificent, ridiculously under appreciated "Invented". Not one of them falls below 4-Star status, a triumph in my eyes!
This brings us now to "Bleed American". Believe it or not, until I purchased this album, I had never heard any of these songs (not even the big singles, like "The Middle" or "Salt Sweat Sugar"). However, I had heard a rough demo version of "Sweetness", from the 2007 re release of "Clarity", and to be honest, I still prefer that older version.
A rare album, one that is instantly catchy but still a grower, the true quality of this album reveals itself, much like "Clarity", only after repeated listening. There is more to this album than sugary melody. What it is I cannot define, but Mary Poppins herself would recognise "Bleed American" as nothing else but "Pretty Much Perfect".
For example, "A Praise Chorus" is mesmerising, a wonderful pop song with a jolly hard rock undertone, it spins out a fantastic chorus that on its own would be classy in its own right. Then, about halfway through, the song breaks down with a joyfully over the top sing a long moment. "Crimson, and Clover, over...and over..." These words will be stuck inside your head for days and weeks afterwards!
"Get It Faster" is another highlight, with the albums finest display of quiet/loud dynamics. Imagine "Nevermind" era Nirvana covering "Blue" era Weezer, and you get the picture. Though this comparison is not to take away from the fact that this is still a distinctly Jimmy flavoured classic.
The well known singles "Bleed American/Salt Sweat Sugar", "The Middle" and "Sweetness" are all amongst the catchiest hits you could ever wish to hear, but again, the depth of not only the melodies, but the lyrics too, ensure that you will never tire of listening to them. Special mention must go to "The Middle", one of the happiest anti-bullying songs ever released, and a magnificent crowd pleaser in its own right.
Every other song is perfect, so I see no reason to give a track by track summary of an album I rate 4.9 at the lowest. But further attention must be payed, in my humble opinion, to "Cautioners", "Your House" and "The Authority Song". But, as I said, this is an all round classic album.
Overlook this masterpiece, and you will miss something special.
The 2008 Deluxe Edition features over 20 bonus tracks. If you are interested in purchasing this version, take note that there are only a handful of tracks worth this particular purchase if you are a Jimmy newbie: "(Splash) Turn Twist", "Firestarter" and the exemplary "Your House 2007". Of the three, my personal favourite is "(Splash)..." because its absolutely amazing! End of, its one of my top Jimmy songs ever.
Other notable songs are as follows:
"The Most Beautiful Things"
("No Sensitivity" is another great track, and should have been on "Bleed American", no doubts about it. "The Most..." is merely okay, not too exciting or memorable (though some may kill me for saying this, so I could be wrong!) They both feature on the not exactly hard to find "Singles" compilation, as a 2-disc set with the bonus JEW/Jebediah split EP. You are better off buying that release, because the whole song collection is frankly quite essential.)
"Firestarter". A slow cover of The Prodigy "classic". It is ok, if only as a reminder that Jimmy write their own, far superior slowburning anthems (although points should be added for pulling off a slowed down version of this song, and for making it somehow work).
"Softer (live)". It is live. You are better off purchasing the self titled EP from 1999 for a few quid which featured this in its original form. It was written around the time of "Clarity", making it quietly essential.
"Game Of Pricks". Not really something worth spending your hard earned cash. I can't remember a single note of it, and I never heard the original version of this song at all.
"Last Christmas"- sweet cover of the Wham! hit single. I like how they changed the melody subtly in the chorus. But again: nothing too special, but I do quite like it!
"Spangle"- an essential Jimmy song, but it appears on the album "Singles", and that is more important. This is another cover, but for the life of me I can't remember who originally performed this song.
The rest are alternate/live versions of the album tracks. None of them are essential (though I like "The Middle" acoustic and the "My Sundown" demo). In short, aside from a couple of very hard to find songs, you are better off finding the better bonus tracks through other releases, unless you consider yourself a mega Jimmy fan and so must own everything the band ever released.
So there we have it:
5/5 for "Bleed American"
4/5 for the Deluxe Edition.
I think these are fair ratings.
On a side note, the Deluxe Edition does come with wonderful artwork, and the original title restored. "Bleed American" was re-titled to simply "Jimmy Eat World" after the 9/11 attacks on New York. Glad to have it back!