Album Review Jimmy Eat World - Damage

While this is by no means a bad record it definitely isn’t a good one either.

Chances are that if you are of a certain age, Jimmy Eat World mean at least something to you. Those in their mid-to-late 20s will recall them as a band who smashed the doors open for emo in the mainstream and who were, at one point, absolutely ubiquitous for rock fans up and down the country. ‘Static Prevails’, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Bleed American’ as a three album streak is better than anything your favourite band have ever done and frankly, if you don’t like ‘The Middle’ then you might want to check that you have a pulse. But what now? Teenage dreams and heady days spinning around your local rock club to ‘Sweetness’ quickly fade into desk jobs and the realisation that life is, in fact, a perpetual kick in the chuddies. Growing up gracefully can become the hardest thing to do, especially for those who burnt brightly in their youth, and for Jimmy Eat World, 2010’s underwhelming ‘Invented’ seemed to underline that at least some of the sheen had been worn from their once dazzlingly glossy surface.

Yet ‘Damage’ comes with a degree of promise attached - first single ‘I Will Steal You Back’ is a wistful and lovelorn tune with enough anthemic stuff happening between verses to raise the hopes. Jim Adkins’ voice, the key in the lock to so many hearts and minds from previous exploits, is still as velvety and distinct as it ever was, providing more or less everything the band do with the gravitas of familiarity. But if the form has remained the same then the quality of content across the album as a whole is certainly a little suspect. When taken as a body of work ‘Damage’ is mid-paced and feels it. There are plenty of strum along moments but, chorus of the aforementioned single excluded, there just isn’t a lot for you to hang your hat on here. Sure, nobody is expecting another ‘Lucky Denver Mint’ but tracks like opener ‘Appreciation’ come across a little laboured, feeling like three minutes of build that never quite reaches a climax (stop giggling at the back). It is a pattern that pervades for much of the record, as though these are sketches of songs that could be made great but aren’t quite there yet.

The band clearly are trying, with go to set pieces like female-voiced harmonies and plateaus of expansive, effects-laden guitar littered throughout, but it all feels a little in vain when the song writing just isn’t quite up to scratch and the energy is lacking. The bottom line is that a Jimmy Eat World track should be one of two things – an achingly beautiful epic, or a chorus driven earworm that grabs you by the lapels and plasters a big ol’ smile on your face. There isn’t much of either here and while this is by no means a bad record it definitely isn’t a good one either. The irony is that perhaps in trying to grow old a little too gracefully Jimmy Eat World have lost some of the youthful exuberance that so endeared them to us in those heady days around the turn of the millennia. We’ll always have ‘Sweetness’ lads, but right now it might just be memories that we’re clinging on to.

 

Records & Merch

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