Jimmy Eat World – Damage
June 11, 2013
What It Sounds Like: Jim Adkins and crew get their Dashboard Confessional on with their eighth record, taking a slightly more predictable route while mending and bending their hearts – but still penning killer hooks that go down nice and easy.
I’ve never had to try to get into Jimmy Eat World.
“Yeah, I dunno – maybe it’ll grow on me.” – said nobody ever! Alternative power pop has never sounded as sweet as these guys make it, and on Damage, we’re all in for another round of misunderstandings and pull-on-your-heartstrings scenarios. Not self-loathing – not even close. But realities and factors that we’ve all dealt (or will deal!) with.
Let me get one possibly surprising fact out of the way before we get into this much further, and let me explain myself: Excluding their first three records because of the stylistic and modern change in sound that came into effect with nineteen-ninety-nine’s breakthrough Bleed American, Damage is my least favorite Jimmy Eat World record out of their past five releases since then.
Hold your stones! Don’t throw ’em just yet – wait!
Listen: Saying Damage is my least favorite Jimmy Eat World record is like saying Panama City Beach, for whatever reason, is my least favorite beach out of the last five that I’ve visited. You’ve still got the sun in your face, the salt on your skin – the crashing of the waves as you lay back and close your eyes. It’s hard to screw up the beach, and likewise, Jimmy Eat World would have to work hard to screw up a record that bad – they’re just that great of a band. Whatever they put out, it’s always good, but if I had to choose my least favorite record, I just know that it would end up being this one.
Maybe – just maybe – this record and its song structures are just slightly tamer and a little more straightforward and predictable than previous releases. Maybe Book Of Love is just a little too middle of the road. Maybe Byebyelove, being nine seconds short of the longest song on the record, could have done better than just singing the same words over and over. Speaking of words, this is my least favorite Jimmy Eat World record in a lyrical sense. Adkins claimed this record as a “break up album for adults”, which only heightened my expectations. Instead, we find not only nothing that would make it more geared towards maturity in contrast with their previous releases, but actually lyrics for the most part that are more simplistic (see: How’d You Have Me) than most of the tracks off of the likes of Invented or Chase This Light. Oh, there’s exceptions without a doubt. Please Say No is a whirlwind of confused emotion in the best sense, and in a case of me eating my own words, simplicity works wonders for the album closer You Were Good.
So I’m not who you wanted but
You’re still the one who sets the fire in me
Guess I’ll drink what I’ll drink
Until the loving touch I need is not a need
You were good
You were good
Then you were gone.
I believed you all along
Yeah it’s sad
But baby here we are
It was good
It was good
Then it was gone.
I feel like I’ve possibly come across too harshly so far – that certainly should not be the case. The missteps are slight, and not worth getting caught up on. Maybe the guitars don’t drive quite as hard as I was expecting, but they’re replaced by a slightly more pop sound that Jimmy Eat World can do equally as well. The title track has a pure pop chorus that is completely memorable, and lead single I Will Steal You Back is equally as powerful and catchy – a fine choice. The powerhouse guitars are back in full swing on No, Never, while Lean showcases a wall of sound that sounds like the most catchy song a shoegaze band ever wrote (aka – along the lines of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart).
I’ve thoroughly dived into this record, and self-admittedly, possibly overanalyzed it. More than likely, I should stop digging so deep and take this record for exactly what it is: a Jimmy Eat World record, full of catchy songs and choruses just like they always make. Not once in their career have they ever made a record that has disappointed me. That’s quite an accomplishment.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Damage / No, Never