October 25, 2007

Record Review: Jimmy Eat World

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Even though Jimmy Eat World was formed in 1993 and its recent work, Chase This Light, is its sixth album, the band still struggles between the worlds of indie and pop. This is not to say that music is supposed to fit snuggly into one genre or another. In fact, that Chase This Light keeps its listener guessing makes the album relatively interesting, a category in which it might otherwise fail.
The fast moving beat played under a guitar solo in opening track “Let it Happen” has an alternative, indefinable quality to it, comparable to the sound of the Arctic Monkeys or Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Instead of the original vocals produced by these two bands, however, Jimmy Eat World’s lead singer Jim Adkins follows the promising instrumental opening with his contrived and overly dramatic voice. You find yourself wishing that he would just let the music go on for a little while longer without his words.
“Big Casino” is a song perfect for rocking out by yourself in your car. It has an alternative feel but the catchy, easy-on-the-ears chorus is more reminiscent of pop. While this might annoy some listeners, many will find it a compatible combination. The song has the inventive feel of indie without the constant intensity of some songs that try too hard to stray from pop culture.
Lyrics are clever at times, lame at others. Even within the same song, such as in ”Carry You,” you might be impressed with such lyrics as: “I could never be the one that you want, don’t ask/ Well, here’s to living in the moment/ ‘Cause it passed,” and made nauseous by such sad attempts at wit as: “You said to ‘keep me in your pocket’/ So I carried you.”
Overall, Jimmy Eat World should have taken some advice from Christina Aguilera and gone back to basics, as corny and simplistic as this sounds. Many of the tracks in Chasing This Light have a futuristic nature to them, one that is over-polished and flashy. This is extremely frustrating, because Jimmy Eat World’s potential is evident at points such as the catchy choruses of “Carry You” and “Big Casino.” But these instances stand out as if the band was caught off guard and the music soon returns to the stiff sound of too much technology.
Perhaps Jimmy’s potential is most evident in the last track of the album, the acoustic version of “Dizzy.” Compared to the regular version of “Dizzy” placed before it, the acoustic version showcases the raw talent of the musicians, particularly guitarists Jim Adkins and Tom Linton.
While listening to Chase This Light you keeping waiting for a climax. When you reach the end of the album without detecting any type of climax or even just a particularly notable moment, you might listen to the album again, thinking that maybe you missed it. But don’t doubt yourself. You didn’t miss anything.