Chase This Light

Jimmy Eat World

Interscope, 2007

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


How many punk-pop bands can get away with quoting Lionel Richie *and* Judas Priest?

Showing they’ve grown up -- but not too much -- Jimmy Eat World manages on their rather mature-and-polished-feeling 2007 release Chase The Light to nonetheless hark back to the manic brilliance of 2001’s ”A Praise Chorus,” eschewing kick-starting your rock and roll heart for a little dancing on the ceiling in the anthemic album opener “Big Casino.”  It’s a credit to their brand of earnest, dewy-eyed guitar rock that Jimmy Eat World can get away with this sort of cheeky steal; it comes off as clever and reverent rather than snarky or goofy.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s a tough opening to live up to, though, and while Chase This Light has a number of strong moments, it doesn’t feel entirely up to the task.  Among the stronger moments here, “Always Be” stands out, a prototypically urgent, melodic and thoughtful rocker whose singalong chorus begs for airplay.  “Carry You” offers another very pretty -- and catchy -- melody line, and “Electable (Give It Up)” echoes the hard, punky edge of older numbers like “Pain” and “Bleed American,” though the group’s fury is channeled pretty thoroughly into melody this time out.

Second half standouts include “Here It Goes,” which throws in bells and a rather techno opening before dropping into a more standard Jimmy layered-vocals-and-sunny-melody tune punctuated by a sharp, repeating riff.  Title track “Chase This Light” turns up the earnest – not to mention the multi-part-vocal-harmonies-over-repeating-guitar-figure-over-stuttering-drums motif -- and creates a kind of uber-Jimmy anthem that’s both somewhat satisfying and altogether familiar.  Farther on, the circular hook and hammering rhythm section of “Firefight” sounds like much of the first half of Futures, just a little sunnier. 

And there’s the crux of what seems to have happened here.  More than one reviewer criticized Futures -- my pick for album of the year in 2005 -- as too dark and melancholy, but this occasionally starry-eyed optimist found it beautiful and compelling.  Chase This Light, by contrast, feels a little too bright and polished.  It’s fervent, yes, but never reaches the raw emotional highs or lows of Bleed American and Futures, instead staying inside the safer middle.   In the end, it’s shinier than both of the albums that preceded it, but not as satisfying as either. 

Rating: B

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