Erin Wolf

Jimmy Eat World

By - Nov 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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‘Emo’ was once considered a four-letter word, yet one of the founding bands of this genre, Jimmy Eat World (along with the likes of Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate and Braid), managed to give it staying power. From 1993 onward, the band that once did split 7” records with Jejune and Christie Front Drive has evolved into a Warped Tour member and is name-checked with Green Day and Taking Back Sunday.

Taken aback by their success, the band has been seemingly cornered into re-creating and advancing this once fresh sound, moving it from its hardcore/punk roots into a bubblegum pop vocalists’ headbanger’s ball. In the process, Jimmy Eat World’s trademark sound, which began with 1999’s Clarity, shifted the majority of the vocals from Tom Linton’s scratchy emo-core rasp to Jim Adkins’ more pure tenor choirboy vox.

Perhaps this was the switch that fixed Jimmy Eat World’s rising popularity, but at a heavy price. None of the once truly poignant words remain. On Chase This Light, the lyrics seem bled dry of anything heartfelt, the songs sliding from one to the next, not effortlessly, but unnoticeably. Gone are the days of the intense but admirable balance of adrenaline-bomb hooks and dramatic epics with electronic noodling (innovative in its day). This stagnant direction is surprising, since their last release in 2001 had them leaning back to their grittier Static Prevails days.

Only “Firefight” and “Feeling Lucky” recall the band’s original sound. Venturing into new territory, “Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues” gives off a smoke-machine, Def Leppard vibe with its excessive strings and over-produced vocals. Even Jim Adkins’ contribution – “Carry You,” from his side project Go Big Casino, and which could be said to be more true-blue – still sounds contrived and will soon be Muzak. Was it foresight that almost ten years ago on Clarity’s “Your New Aesthetic,” Adkins sang, “We’re lowering the standard in a process selective / the formula is too thin / but it takes more than one person / so everyone jump on / I’ll miss you when you’re just like them”?

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