Damage

Jimmy Eat World

RCA, 2013

http://www.jimmyeatworld.net

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/01/2013

Sometimes bands fall into a pattern where they follow a very strong album with a not-so-strong one, and then repeat the cycle. Having followed the excellent 2004 disc Futures with the altogether too-shiny Chase The Light (2007), Tempe, Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World rebounded strongly with 2010’s Invented. Time for another letdown?

No sir (or ma’am). The new album Damage is a very strong outing from the Jimmys—Jim Adkins (lead vocals/guitars), Zach Lind (drums), Rick Burch (bass) and Tom Linton (guitars/vocals)—a mature breakup album that evidences significant growth from the band’s earlier, younger records. It might not have the visceral impact of instant classics like Bleed American (2001) and Futures, but it’s definitely one of their stronger albums.

“Appreciation” kicks things off with a sharp, chunky riff and urgent vocals, challenging the listener with a herky-jerky rhythm that’s not the easiest to groove to—but the riffing and the vocal arrangement are strong and carry this one to a satisfying finish. The title track follows, taking a downbeat lyric and matching it with a bright, poppy arrangement that features Linton’s chiming electric accents playing off of Adkins’ acoustic rhythm guitar. It’s an appealing if too-slick number for a group that’s always benefited from a bit of a punk edge on their heavier tunes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Lean” is where this album hits its stride, a track whose sustained, steady-building intensity achieves uniquely-Jimmy liftoff. Standout track “Book Of Love” follows, tricking you with a sweet come-on, ringing acoustic guitars drawing you in until you hit the key line, “The book of love is fiction.” Ouch. A bit bitter, are we? The song builds, urgent rhythm and appealing melody propelling it forward until the rhythm section drops out midway and the rest of the way it’s just vocals over guitars—a gorgeous effect that underscores the haunted poignancy of the song.

The heart of the album arrives deep in this cut: “Are they ever coming back again / Those feelings that we started with?” More than the loss of his lover, it’s that loss of feeling, the visceral high of falling and being in love, that haunts.

In the album’s big one-two punch, “Book Of Love” sets up “I Will Steal You Back,” a thrumming, ringing, anthemic first single that closes the first half of the album with an exclamation point. “Please Say No” opens the second half on a somber note, a lofty, mournful ballad with a bit of Motown tambourine offering a nice little embellishment on the chorus.

“How’d You Have Me” brings back the big riff, a surging anthem that shows off the Jimmys’ gift for delivering ringing, memorable, heart-on-your-sleeve rockers. “No, Never” has a finger-snapping tension in the rhythm that really billows out at the choruses, another Jimmy specialty. “Byebyelove” alternates between quiet, tense moments and cloudbursts of guitar on the choruses, a climactic farewell.

Closer “You Were Good” offers a relative change of pace, a mostly acoustic, rather elegiac ballad, melancholy and nostalgic: “It was good, it was good / Then it was gone.” And haven’t we all been there, at some point?

Damage is full of typically appealing songcraft featuring a dynamic balance between heavy and light, with urgency and earnestness fueling these thrumming tunes. Twenty years on, Jimmy Eat World continues to find new ways to make music as big as their hearts.

Rating: B+

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